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(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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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.

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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?

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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?

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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