(68 Posts)
raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 19:42:22

I have a homestart volunteer who comes once a week, and has been about four-five times now. I have ds (3) and dd (8 months), and spent 8 weeks in a lithe and baby psychiatric unit when dd was very little. Dd was also in hospital for refusal to feed and weight loss an dx with reflux and cmpi. Obviously I was struggling. Homestart was recommended a a way of getting me support for which I am very grateful.

The volunteer is very nice, but she comes and chats for two or so hours. We make small talk and talk a bit about some issues. The problem is I find it incredibly hard work and not all that useful. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I have friends I see and chat to, I go out every day. I struggle with managing both children together and keeping on top of basic house stuff like washing bottles and the like.

I don't know how to address it as I dread her coming . It is the thing I find hardest, talking to someone I don't know, making conversation. And the whole time she is there I can't get on with anything, make a cup of tea etc. I'm probably not explaining this well.

What I need is a break, to be able to to things in house/sleep/be by myself for 20mins- that would help (we have no family near to help), not just to chat to a stranger.

I sound like a cow. But I just think I am wasting her time.

ssd Mon 01-Apr-13 19:48:08

You aren't wasting anyone's time. But I think she's just thinking you like a little chat, when really you need her to iron/bath the kids/let you get a lie down whilst she reads to the kids....or make up those bottles for you

You need to be honest with her and tell her what you want, shes there to help. TBH she sounds a waste of space, sitting and chatting instead of doing and helping.

Needingthework Mon 01-Apr-13 19:53:36

I used to work for them as a coordinator.
Does your volunteer not have a workplan? At our branch, each one had a workplan, to be reviewed after 6-8 weeks, which you should have been shown when the volunteer was introduced. This would give you and her an idea as to how the support will be carried out.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 20:02:19

I used to be a HS Co-ordinator too. Ring your local branch up and ask to speak to your co-ordinator and explain how you're feeling. She will be able to speak to your volunteer, or perhaps find another more suitable volunteer. Both you and your volunteer should be having fairly regular reviews to find out how things are going, if you're suited to each other, if needs are being met.

One thing I will mention is that our volunteers were told that they were not baby-sitters or cleaners, the idea was that they were there to empower their family so that the family could cope once volunteer support was withdrawn. So if it's practical help you need or a break from the children, maybe HS isn't for you? They might be able to refer you to other local organisations which may be better able to help you though? I hope you get the help you need/want.

fuzzpig Mon 01-Apr-13 20:06:55

Arrgh I wrote a long reply and then my phone died sad

In short - speak to your coordinator because there has been some misunderstanding about how your HSV should be helping you. It is supposed to be tailored to your individual needs - not that it's like a free babysitting or cleaning service obviously, but they should understand that different people need different forms of help. Some people would find the chatting helpful if they were particularly lonely or isolated.

For you the ideal would be that your HSV plays with your DCs for a bit while you get some stuff done and have some headspace from being constantly 'on duty', or maybe playing with one while you have some quality time with the other.

I just met my HSV and we agreed that she will be playing with DS while I get a bit of rest (I am disabled), in particular playing with him outside as I can't do that, and sometimes taking us out as I don't drive and can't manage buses plus DCs at the moment.

It sounds like you don't have the right HSV for you, or there's just been a misunderstanding about the aim of the match, so you should have a word with the coordinator.

elliejjtiny Mon 01-Apr-13 20:09:31

If you want practical help, Barnardos are great. I had a lovely volunteer from there when my DS1 and DS2 were little. She helped me get my house in order when I'd neglected it to concentrate on DS2's various therapies.

aquashiv Mon 01-Apr-13 20:10:59

Have you told her what you would like.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 20:11:19

I've had a Homestart volunteer come visit me and my two children for almost a year now - and she's absolutely lovely. She is kind of like the grandmother I wish their actual grandmother was (my mil - my own mum passed away years ago and the rest of my family is back in Canada)

Anyway, sometimes we have a chat while she takes on entertaining the kids the entire time she is here. Other times, because she is so hands on with the children, I can get on with cleaning the house, the ironing, having an extended shower, or even a nap (particularly in the early days when I was really struggling with sleep deprivation and PND.) I really look forward to her visits, and my children adore her.

Don't feel that you're wasting her time, as I find that my volunteer gets as much out of visiting with my children as I do out of having her here. With that said, you may have to have a little chat with your volunteer and determine if both of you are comfortable for her to spend time with your kids while you're getting on with what you need to get on with. She is not there to do your ironing or housework for you, but I suspect she'd be more than happy to entertain the kids while you're out of the room. I know in the early days for me it felt odd to just leave the room and get on with whatever I needed to do, but now I don't think twice about it.

However, if it's not a good match, for whatever reason, you can always have a chat with the Homestart coordinator, probably the person who came out to visit you initially, and they may be able to arrange for a different volunteer to come to you. They don't take it personally, it's just something that happpens sometimes.

Hopefully you can get it sorted. Sorry I rambled on for so long!

amistillsexy Mon 01-Apr-13 20:12:07

I agree, have a word with your co-ordinator. If you don't like the visitor who has been asigned to you, he/she will allocate a new one ( if there are any vounteers free), but if it's just a case of needing her to do something different, the co-ordinator should be able to get that sorted for you without you having to have a difficult conversation.
The important thing is that you are well supported.

kinkyfuckery Mon 01-Apr-13 20:13:53

Just tell her what you would like. She can either say yes, or no. She needs you to guide her with what you are happy.

<3 your username by the way!!

littlemissbunny Mon 01-Apr-13 20:14:11

I am currently applying to become a volunteer and I was told all families are different and want different things.

As a volunteer I would want to know what you expect from me so I can help you as much as I can, and would be happy to help with the things you are asking.

Speak to your coordinator, it may be you would be better matched with another volunteer or that your volunteer just isn't clear on what you would like.

Sokmonsta Mon 01-Apr-13 20:31:28

It might be taking her a little while to settle in. Have you signed the papers to leave her alone with the dc?

I spent the first few weeks talking to my volunteer before feeling I could just leave her to get on with the twins while I do housework. But now she even makes their breakfast, dresses them and makes up their bottles without being asked.

Be honest with her about what you need from her and go from there. If you still don't get on, mention it to your coordinator when they do their next visit.

fuzzpig Mon 01-Apr-13 20:32:35

Ellie I didn't know barnardos did things like that, thanks smile

Namehelpplease Mon 01-Apr-13 20:39:57

I chatted to a girl who has HS help. She told me its great but she's not allowed to sleep whilst the volunteer was there?

MammaTJ Mon 01-Apr-13 20:56:15

Tell her you have friends you can talk to but you need practical help. I really miss mine since my son turned 5. She sould make such a difference to my living room within 5 minutes and helped me so much.

hudjes Mon 01-Apr-13 21:15:59

Hi bubbybum - you have had your homestart visitor for almost a year now? I thought they were for 4 to 6 months. Mine finished after 6 months.
OP - mine was helpful, I had to make it clear what I wanted though.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 21:22:20

There are guidelines within HS that suggest the volunteer doesn't do housework or babysitting etc. However, to a certain extent it's up to the individual volunteer to decide how much/little they are prepared to do. As long as they don't take over doing everything - the idea is they take up a bit of the slack for the period when the family is most stressed. So some volunteers might be prepared to come and do housework alongside the family, or help the family get a routine in place, or accompany the family/mother to a gp's appointment etc. They really do say though that they are not babysitters so whereas they can play with the dc, the idea is that they are showing the family how to deal with the dc once support is withdrawn.

And, certainly where I worked, it was always encouraged that if the mum for instance had a dental appointment, rather than leaving the dc at home with the volunteer, the volunteer should accompany the mum to help her out with the dc at the dentist. Which in practice sounds the hard way of doing things, but in theory helps the mum to develop confidence in being out and about with the dc. There's no reason though why Op can't go out with her volunteer if they both want. They could go to park, or soft play, shopping or whatever.

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 21:40:09

Thanks for all the advice. I'm not expecting her to clean or anything. But for example I always offer her a drink and she says no. So then I don't feel like I can sit and drink a cup of tea. And the house is always a tip, so I often send the morning before she comes rushing round making it decent. It feels like I am on my guard all the time, like someone is watching how I play with the kids.

It just feels like really hard work. Ds always get really hyper and 'show Coffey' if that makes sense. I just find small talk really hard. I don't really know what I mean, other than I get really anxious the night before she comes and it feels hard.

We have been out, but there isn't much in my village and I'm worried I will see someone- how would I introduce her?

In the early days when did screamed all day long and ds was dumped in front of cbeebies it would have been great.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:45:56

Hi hudjes - yes, though I can't exactly remember when my volunteer started with us, but it's definitely been well over six months now.

At the six months mark I had a home visit with the coordinator to see how I was getting on. At that point I still felt that I still needed support, so my volunteer continued on with us. I am now feeling much more confident and capable and my pnd is so much better, so I suspect that soon I'll be letting my volunteer go to help another family. I'm dreading that day because my kids and I have grown really fond of her.

Does anyone on here, who has or is a volunteer with Homestart, keep in touch with the families they have helped, or is that frowned upon?

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 21:47:02

She's not there to judge you*raining*, she's really not. HS train their volunteers quite intensively (ten week course when I was a co-ordinator), and chances are she will have been where you are now (the most important criteria for all our volunteers was that they had children so really knew how difficult it could be). During the training there is a strong emphasis on being non-judgemental, and although it happens rarely, people who don't seem to be "getting" the HS ethos are (nicely!) asked to leave.

Don't tidy your house before she gets there, let her see it how it is. She will then have a better notion of how you're coping, and may be able to help you with a routine or a strategy to keep on top of it. And absolutely if you want a cup of tea, go ahead and have one! If you meet anyone you know when you're out with her, introduce her as "my friend, Sarah" or whatever. Another thing HS is very keen on is confidentiality, so she will have been well primed not to talk about you to anyone other than her co-ordinator.

But ultimately the whole HS volunteer thing is meant to help you. If you feel it's stressing you out, speak to your co-ordinator, she/he is there to help.

Namehelpplease Mon 01-Apr-13 21:48:37

Sounds pretty pointless the way it is! Could you say to her "I'm so glad you're here - I'm going to get on with some jobs if that's okay and then have a bath/shower. Would you mind watching TV with the kids while I crack on and if they need anything at all just shout?"

I'm not sure if that would count as babysitting? Can others advise? I do have family but my dad bless him wouldn't know how to 'look after' DS in terms of changing nappies, feeding etc - but it really helps him just playing with him whie I get laundry done etc and then have a shower?

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 21:52:13

What FarleyD said. Spot on.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 21:53:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

redwellybluewelly Mon 01-Apr-13 22:00:37

I've been unable to get HomeStart in our area, but thanks for the tip about Barnados.

Think you need to be honest and discuss with your volunteer or her team a way forward to make the most of her time in your house. Definitely second not running around tidying up before she arrives, simply additional stress.

littlemissbunny Mon 01-Apr-13 22:02:41

raining I am starting my volunteer training soon and I would feel bad if someone felt they had to tidy up before I went! it would make me feel better about my own house not being perfect

The reason I am volunteering is because I really struggled myself and wish I had know about homestart, I would never judge anyone because their house is a mess. I am going there to hopefully make a big difference to them and give them the support they need.

And I would be happy to be introduced as your friend Sarah from school days etc, its one thing I would ask before I went out with you so you wouldn't feel awkward if you bumped into someone as you would know what to say.

Please have a chat with her about it, or if you feel you can't talk to her talk to your coordinator, it's what they are there for.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 01-Apr-13 22:11:03

It sounds like she's not very experienced to me. She should be helping not hindering and I wonder why she's not reading you better...?

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 22:13:53

I dont want her to clean! I think part of the issue is maybe that maybe because it took four months to set up I am out of the worst. As I said when did was smaller and screaming all day I needed someone to help me get out etc.

But things like, my CPN visits once a week, each time she asks if I've had a got drink today and makes me one. She checks I've eaten and will watch the kids while I make something to eat. She always asks if there is anything I want t do hang washing out, wash bottles etc and just watches them while I quickly do that.

I just find talking to new people so hard. I think it is me. My main issues now are my mental health ones, intrusive thoughts etc and I can't talk to her about them. I just smile and pretend everything is great,because that is what I do.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Mon 01-Apr-13 22:16:33

I think you need to think about stopping the visits then have a CPN visit also...not sure what CPN is, but it sounds like your Homestart visitor would be better off being freed up for someone else.

raininginbaltimore Mon 01-Apr-13 22:18:34

Community Psychiatric Nurse.

Haberdashery Mon 01-Apr-13 22:23:10

>> I just find talking to new people so hard. I think it is me.

Hi, I have no particular mental health issues but would also find this insanely stressful because I am very introverted and prefer my own company. It's not just you. Do you think maybe you don't really need these visits?

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 22:24:03

Bubby, no real reason why you can't keep in touch with your volunteer/family after the "official" relationship is over - if that's what you both want.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 22:28:20

Maybe HS is not for you then Raining - and that's not a criticism in any shape or form. As you say, perhaps your time of need for a volunteer has passed and now is the time for other services to help you. I think HS is a wonderful organisation, but tbh, I do think it has serious limitations, which is one of the reasons I left. The area in which I worked had so many families who were suffering in such dreadful ways (thinking particularly of one family where the mum had survived murder attempt and was being stalked), that the idea of a nice friendly woman turning up once a week to chat was a bit risible.

hudjes Mon 01-Apr-13 22:34:45

Bubbybub, HS made it clear to me when coming up to 6 months, that it was coming to an end. Felt really upset as me and my daughter was getting attached to her. Maybe they thought we were coping well. We have said we will keep in touch.

ariane5 Mon 01-Apr-13 22:40:55

I have had HS volunteer twice now. Four years ago when I was pg with dd2 I was very much in your position and it didn't work out.

I now have a HS volunteer who is a godsend, she reads to dd2, makes me a cup of tea and I can sit and feed ds2 in peace or get on with housework. She is really easy to chat to (and Iam not much of a chatty/sociable person so that's saying a lot!).

Speak to the hS co ordinator and perhaps they could change your volunteer? Or make a plan more tailored to the help you would like.

Lilicat1013 Mon 01-Apr-13 22:42:37

I think it might be worth talking with her about what could be helpful within the range of what she is allowed to do. At the moment it seems like she thinks you need a friend or person to talk to and is trying to be supportive that way.

I have been referred to Home Start myself and am waiting to here if I qualify. I have an autistic three year old and a newborn. My older son has become very distressed at the birth of my younger son.

Ideally I am hoping someone would be able to sit with my baby while I get my younger son when he is dropped off by his school transport. I have to go down four flights of stairs with baby in car seat, then wait with baby in the cold for the taxi. My older son gets dropped off with his bag and car seat. I have to get baby in car seat, unco-operative three year old who may refuse to move, three year old's car seat and his backpack up four flights of stairs back to the flat.

If someone could just sit with baby (who will be asleep) for five to ten minutes that would make all the difference. That is probably considered babysitting though so I am going to ask for some help to go out with both of them as I don't really leave the flat anymore.

BubbyBum Mon 01-Apr-13 22:45:02

hudjes, that is a shame. Perhaps they didn't realise you still needed / wanted the support. I hope you are able to keep in touch with your volunteer!

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 22:50:47

So, they don't clean or iron . You cant go off and rest while they are there < sleeping not allowed? > and they are there to 'empower the family? '

This all sounds really vague to me. A struggling parent would surely need a few hours of peace and a helping hand.

What exactly DO they do?

Ooh, interesting thread - might think about volunteering with HS - particularly as something you can just volunteer a few hours a week with - and would like to support a young family now mine are a bit older smile

montage Mon 01-Apr-13 23:13:35

I would have a think OP, about what it would be helpful for her to do. Then ask her or the co-ordinator which things on your list are ok for the volunteer to do. The workplan that Needingthework talked about in her post (of 19:53) sounds like a good way to do that, if your homestart branch also does them.

Then see whether the usefulness of the visit is worth the stress IYSWIM - completely your call.

If you think that the particular volunteer is just not a good "fit" for you and your family it sounds like you can also ask about a change of volunteer.

Your CPN does sound very useful but obviously a CPN and Homestart volunteer are very different and there is absolutely no reason at all why you should not have both. Many support plans for people in your position would of course include both. Completely different services.

Please make the decision based on what is best for you and you family - if there is a way this service can make life easier for you I would try and find it. If it's going to remain stressful I would let it go. But don't feel you have to free up a volunteer for someone else or that you have to let her go because you are wasting her time etc. It sounds like you have been through a very rough time.

Your mental health is the priority here so make your decisions based on that.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 23:33:32

Mint - that was the question I kept asking myself, felt a bit of a fraud in the end, didn't think what we had to offer was anything near enough to deal with the problems we were faced with.

But, given the right volunteer matched with the right family, HS intervention can make a world of difference. Just having a sympathetic ear once a week is enough for some people, having someone to help organise you works for others, having someone to come out with you may help someone else, signposting as TheSecondComing says to local services and organisations etc.

It's all meant to about "empowering" the family to function as best it can, and to ease families through those often very difficult early days.

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 23:36:08

Well, I fully support HomeStart. Absolutely.

But this just seems really vague and woolly. I'd like to see something more concrete. All families are different and have different needs but I would think that you're probably dealing with a lot of folk who have some bigger issues than maybe a listening ear or holding the baby can help with.

Dunno, I'd have to think about it more. I just keep returning to the thought of ' it's not very specific

memphis83 Mon 01-Apr-13 23:36:52

I still go to a family support group and get support from there but I stopped visits after 4 weeks as I felt how you seem to. I felt on guard and cleaned house and put a front on while she was there. She once took ds for a walk while I had a shower but I didn't connect with her.
I told my co-ordinator how I felt that I didn't feel it helped me and she said some don't feel that the visits help. I have a couple of friends who have had visits for about two years now. But I felt better once the visits stopped.

FarleyD Mon 01-Apr-13 23:43:11

Absolutely true Minty, it is a bit woolly. But most of the HS volunteers are just that, ie volunteers. They're not trained social workers or counsellors etc, and can only work within the remit of the HS guidelines. Those families needing more specific help and intervention (and there are loads of them, or certainly were where I worked) are not going to benefit significantly from a lovely lady/man coming over once a week for a chat.

MajaBiene Mon 01-Apr-13 23:47:16

MintChoc - maybe in one family what the mum needs is help to take her toddler and baby twins out to the HV clinic/toddler group.
Another mum might need someone to entertain the children while she makes phonecalls/does housework/has a bath/sleeps.
Another might have a physical disability and need help taking her children to the park or swimming.
Another might just be really isolated and need a friend, someone who can help them tackle budgetting or form filling or getting on top of family routines.

If a family has really severe issues, more than just a friendly face/listening ear/extra pair of hands for a few hours a week, then it isn't a job for HomeStart - it might be a job for Social Services, Sure Start, mental health services etc.

OP - speak to your co-ordinator and tell her how you feel and what help you actually need. If what you want is for the volunteer to play with the children while you get on with other stuff at home then say that.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:52:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadRoly Mon 01-Apr-13 23:53:49

Unfortunately I didn't have a great HS experience. I was referred by the HV when dc4 was born as dh was working away, dc4 had health worries and dc2 was having real problems at school.

First volunteer was a lovely older lady who was to come after school for a couple of hours to help out as I cooked tea etc. only she came twice then went off sick.

Second volunteer was younger and had school age children so could only come during school hours. As I went out every morning to toddlers etc and both dc3 & 4 slept all afternoon, it was a bit pointless as time when I could have been snoozing doing other stuff was taken up with polite chit chat. And. Then had a school run and then all the witching hour/tea time nonsense to do on my own anyway... I think we only did 4-6 weeks tops.

I think the idea behind HS is superb but the implementation doesn't always meet the needs of the family. And I have to say that both if my volunteers were lovely but it just didn't work for me.

MintChocCh1p Mon 01-Apr-13 23:56:14

Yes I can see that.

I also know that I'd hate it, but then I'm not the target audience I suppose. I can understand how the OP feels...maybe time to try and be a little assertive and say ' Actually, I'd love a couple of hours to sleep tackle some jobs upstairs if you could play with the kids ? ' and see if that works?

I like the idea of help being out there for folk struggling, I'd love to see more hours available and something more solid but I suppose that Cameron will be doing away with HS shortly if he hasn't already, along with everything else?

MajaBiene Mon 01-Apr-13 23:57:46

I don't think it's necessarily implementation so much as being realistic about what HS is/does. In your situation BadRoly it sounds like what you really could have done with was a mother's help type person. Social Services/HVs are also guilty of referring families to HS who need actual care/help rather than a supportive friend.

TheSecondComing Mon 01-Apr-13 23:58:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MajaBiene Mon 01-Apr-13 23:58:33

HomeStart is a charity, nothing to do with the govt.

BadRoly Mon 01-Apr-13 23:59:43

That's it MajaBiene, admittedly this was almost 4 years ago so perhaps Homestart wasn't so well known and the HV didn't fully understand the role of the volunteers?

BadRoly Tue 02-Apr-13 00:02:05

Plus I was fortunate to have plenty of supportive friends, it's just they too had young families and couldn't help practically when I needed it!

MintChocCh1p Tue 02-Apr-13 00:07:12

TSC - Ha yes. It's like my worse nightmare come true. I pride myself on being parent of the year though grin hmm

How is HS funded? I did assume it was govt funded actually.

MajaBiene Tue 02-Apr-13 00:16:59

Donations, fundraising, grants - each local HomeStart is run independently so some will win grants/contracts from their local council. Most rely on a range of smaller amounts of grants and funding from different sources.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Tue 02-Apr-13 01:43:32

It's astonishing that more people don't know more about HomeStart, it's existed for 25 years.
I think its strength is in its vagueness; it should fill a gap when people fall through the net of more specific agencies.
I will do a bit of ironing, cooking, babysitting sometimes. I won't babysit for 3 hours every week while the parent of my family goes out!
My co-ordinator specifies very clearly what people want from their visitor, and I can say which needs I can fulfil and which I wouldn't be good at.
It's often a case of reassurance. A parent feeling isolated and/or suffering from PND just needs to be told that they are doing well, it doesn't matter if their house is not immaculate, that they have a pile of ironing from floor to ceiling, that their children are not unique in their untidiness, lack of co-operation, sibling stroppiness etc. But it does matter that their children are delivered to school on time, clean -ish, fed and clothed appropriately and they are are achieving that, and getting them to a couple of after school activities, and reading them a story every night, and helping them with homework, and the children obviously feel secure and loved. So sod the ironing and hoovering!
It's also part of my remit to make myself redundant by helping the parents to replace what I do in other ways that are sustainable for them.

It's certainly bugger all to do with Cameron or any other government, thank goodness.

So OP, speak to your co-ordinator. They will either re-direct the visitor you have or give you a different one more suited to your needs.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Tue 02-Apr-13 01:50:11

Sorry, before I get jumped on, I'm not underestimating PND, I'm only talking about very mild cases, anything more severe would be referred to GP etc.

exoticfruits Tue 02-Apr-13 07:26:54

I would say that it was a communication problem and I would bet the volunteer is feeling that she isn't much use either. You need to speak to the co-ordinator and sort out what would be helpful and meet your needs.

Smudging Tue 02-Apr-13 07:32:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Vagazzled Tue 02-Apr-13 08:21:38

I'm a HSV and have been with my current family for one year. My HSC is absolutely fine with this and has said our role is to be there for as long as the family need us.

lougle Tue 02-Apr-13 08:58:41

I've had a homestart volunteer for 4 years now. DD1 was diagnosed with SN when I was 11 weeks pregnant with DD3, quite out of the blue. I had 3 under 3.6 and DD1was delayed in all areas, so it was more like having twins and one on the way.

Our hsv is wonderful. She comes and plays with the girls and insists that I disappear. I make her a cup of tea and we have a chat, then she occupies the children while I do...whatever I want.

It's been so wonderful for me because I get frequent migraines and DD1's needs are quite intense (constant supervision at7) and she wakes early each day.

Over the years she's stretched her time with us. she tends to come at about 2.30, chat for half an hour, then leaves around 5.30-6.00 pm.

I'd never ask her to do jobs for me, but I really value her safely occupying the children.

fuzzpig Tue 02-Apr-13 09:12:05

Having thought about it some more I've changed my mind. Don't speak to coordinator straight away - give it one more chance. Next time she visits:

1. DON'T run round tidying before she arrives. Honestly it is not necessary at all.
2. DO make yourself a cuppa. She is probably only saying no to be polite and won't bat an eye at you having one.
And most importantly:
3. ASK her to do something. Practise in advance: "can you just watch the kids while I [insert housework]". It is quite probable that she has seen your lack of asking as a sign that you want to keep chatting, perhaps that you want to get to know her better before you let her play with your DCs (which would be perfectly reasonable of course) and is actually just waiting for you to say otherwise. HSVs aren't mind readers! Thinking back to when I met my HSV, she did say that I should ask/tell her what I need each week.

I would say do the above at the next visit, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised. IF however she refuses to watch the DCs (which is absolutely within the remit of HS as long as you aren't swanning off to the gym etc), then you'll know it's not a good match and you should definitely contact your coordinator.

I love the vagueness of HS - my first official meeting with my HSV is at the town hall as DH and I are meeting a benefits advisor to discuss DLA. My HSV has a lot of experience with it so it will be great that she can help decipher the jargon grin and also hopefully entertain the human tornado 3yo DS while we fill in forms or whatever. smile

pigletmania Tue 02-Apr-13 10:50:20

Mabey it's not right for you if you not getting anything out of the visits. Tell th coordinator and te tem know. Mabey try Banados for more practical help

Thehoardernextdoor Tue 02-Apr-13 13:58:18

I am an active HSV, currently visiting my second family and would absolutely agree with what fuzzpig says above. HS is all about what helps you the most and this "vagueness" that people have referred to is in many ways its strength. However, it can be difficult at first. Your volunteer will probably not want to be thought of as taking over, so will wait to be guided by you. If you feel unable to tell her directly what it is you want, you should speak to the co-ordinator who will do it for you. I assume there are slightly different rules in different areas eg we are not allowed to take children out unaccompanied by a parent or clean FOR someone (alongside is acceptable) and this is for our own protection as much as anything. HS volunteer training has an excellent reputation, the course tends to weed out those who are more judgemental, so I would be very surprised if your volunteer was phased by the state of your house. We are all parents ourselves and remember how difficult being a parent with very young children can be so I would recommend you give it another try before you give up on it. And in answer to what someone else asked above, I am still in touch with my first family- we are genuine friends so they come to my house, I babysit for her etc. I love HomeStart!

kennyp Tue 02-Apr-13 14:43:56

I absoluteluy adord my time as a hs vol and echo what others have said .... Speak to your co ordinator. My co ordinator was brilliant and a fantastic support for the families, and me.

Hope the coordinator can get something sorted out for you.

somewhereaclockisticking Tue 02-Apr-13 15:06:41

The health visitor suggested Homestart for me by saying the volunteer could look after the children whilst I grabbed a bath or something - so I think the whole idea is perhaps being sold to people incorrectly - basically it's just someone to chat to who isn't meant to judge you but just offer company so you don't feel isolated which is good for some people who are cut off from family and friends but I suspect the majority of people don't really find it helpful because basically it's an extra person to entertain whilst trying to cope with the baby/toddler etc. I'd just try and get out to meet other mums in the area so you have someone to chat to who understands and really won't care if the house is a mess.

FarleyD Tue 02-Apr-13 16:09:43

I do think some health visitors and social services refer people to HS indiscriminately. HS only helps families where there is at least one child under five (although there can obviously be elder children too), but often inappropriate referrals were made.

MajaBiene Tue 02-Apr-13 17:31:03

There is no reason why a volunteer can't watch the kids while mum has a sleep or bath - in fact that is suggested in the training. HS can practical help as well as emotional support but within the limits of a once a week, 2-3 hour visit so isn't suitable for a family that need care.

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