Kathryn McCann, who recently joined the team at Home-Start Reading, one of the charities that benefits from our sales, shares how they help local families.
As the new Communications and Fundraising Co-ordinator at Home-Start Reading, it has been really heartwarming to get a deeper insight into what the charity does. Before I joined all I knew was that they provide trained volunteers to help families going through tough times. In fact there’s a lot more to it.
In addition to home-visiting volunteers we offer Family Group sessions, where families can meet up with others in a friendly, relaxed environment as well as getting support from our staff. We also provide Mums in Mind courses, where mums who are struggling mentally or emotionally can meet up and connect with each other while doing craft activities and learning coping techniques. And, in conjunction with Home-Start Slough, we provide workshops for expectant dads to prepare them for fatherhood.
We help in all sorts of other ways too, depending on the needs of each family and the resources we can access at the time.
The confidence to cope
A mum we had been supporting wrote recently to express her thanks. Like many of the families we work with, they’d had a dedicated volunteer, who would typically spend two to three hours each week helping them in any way they needed.
The mum told us: “I loved it when our volunteer would hold the baby for me and give me a rest. Having Home-Start support has helped me to care about myself more! I have just felt so supported, and I just loved how you would always remind me of the positive things that I had done – it’s just what I needed.”
I asked one of our Home-Visiting Co-ordinators, Marion Mortimer, to tell me a bit more about this family’s story.
“The family was referred to Home-Start Reading by a health visitor. The older child had not been allocated a nursery school place due to serious behavioural difficulties. That made things quite difficult for the mum, who by that point was also dealing with a baby with a disability,” she explained.
“The volunteer very much came alongside the mum, giving her an opportunity to talk – someone to offload to. She was also able to support her to get out of the house safely with the two children. She gave her the confidence to cope as well as giving her much-needed time out, freeing her up to go to appointments etc.
“She’s a brilliant mum – she really is – but had so many challenges. There was so much to deal with on the day to day, and the volunteer was there to encourage her and tell her she was doing such a good job.
“We were also able to provide the family with a laptop, which made a huge difference. Previously mum had only had access to an old mobile phone to do all the family’s admin, including filling in forms and arranging appointments for the children. Using special Covid funding we helped them create sensory areas in their garden for the children. And thanks to the generosity of John Lewis, we provided some new clothes for all the family.”
Helping families get onto a better track
That story is a great example of how we work to build up parents’ confidence, capabilities and connections so they can cope without us.
We’re really grateful to Gifted Boutique and everyone who buys from them for supporting our work. You really are enabling families to get through difficult times, putting children on track for a happier, more secure future.