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Experiences of Home-Start please

(19 Posts)
madmarchhare Fri 19-Aug-05 14:40:29

I am thinking becoming a Home Start volunteer and was wondering if anyone had any experiences of Home Start, either as a volunteer or as someone who has used their services.

tiredemma Fri 19-Aug-05 14:46:28

im a homestart volunteer, and i think that there are a couple of others on here that do it aswell, i enjoy it immensly.
i originally started it to gain some kind of experience that would help me with my application to do a nursing degree, but now realise that even when i get into uni, it will something i will continue with.
the course prepares you well for visiting people, but bits like child protection etc are a bit gritty.
i have really nice family to visit aswell, i like feeling as if im helping them make a difference in thier lives.

nailpolish Fri 19-Aug-05 14:51:30

madmarchare, ive been thinking of this too! our daily local paper has adverts every single day.

but i dont know if i would be able to do it, having 2 children under 3

i know auntyquated is a homestart volunteer too, but shes not been around much lately (or i havent seen her)

Lio Fri 19-Aug-05 15:18:26

Ahem, was about to sing the praises of the Green Flag man who came round to start our car

AuntyQuated Fri 19-Aug-05 15:52:17

yes, me too.
i am with my third family now, but that will soon come to an end as she is going back to work.

nailpolish- do you have anyone reliable to have your own children? one thing that HS stresses is that you have to be very comitted to visiting your family as they can be very dependent on you. you may be the only person they see during the week.

some families can be 'heavy' going but HS do a good job of matching family and volunteer. my family is lovely. they requested help as they were more than a little shocked when they realised the demands new born twins make. it's lovely to see everyone progress and we are off to their first birthday party on sunday.

shout up if i can give you any iother info

nailpolish Fri 19-Aug-05 16:04:42

no, i dont. and i work weekends. i think ill leave it til dd's are at school

madmarchhare Fri 19-Aug-05 16:07:00

I have very reliable MIL who has DS every Wednesday and Im more than happy to give up a few hours then.

The lady who I briefly spoke to about it (local gala handing out leaflets) said that they would pay for childcare whilst doing any training, or at least I think that is what she said , do you know anything about this? I am going to contact her for further info soon but I think it would help my case if she thought Id listened to her properly the first time

How long did you spend with your previous families? (as in months/years, not hours a week).

AuntyQuated Fri 19-Aug-05 17:34:11

first family - only about 3 months, she didn't really want help and was regularly out when i called.

second family - about a year, until she returned to work and i still ring her every now and again.

third family (and current) almost a year

mumbee Fri 19-Aug-05 18:20:59

I was someone who used HS and was lucky to have access to a group. 8 mums where brought together each week to have time out of the house and have our children watched by qualified staff. I also got to meet mums who had home volunteers they were amazed at the difference you made to their lives. So please go for it HS are always on the look out for more volunteers it means they will be able to help even more mums. If You also know any seniors who could volunteer Male/Female they are also greatly welcomed.

madmarchhare Fri 19-Aug-05 19:46:49

Any of you evening bunch?

Aragon Fri 19-Aug-05 20:13:34

Not a volunteer but I know HS are about to start in the area I work in and I am so looking forward to this as there are loads of families here who'd welcome some help.

scubawoman Fri 19-Aug-05 20:20:14

I used to be a volunteer until we moved, would love to go back to doing it, but there is too much going on at home at the moment for me to be able to commit 100%. I started once my children were both at school.
I was matched with a family whose child had very complex special needs and the mother suffered with mental health issues. Also covered when a volunteer was taken ill for a while for a lady who was partially sighted and had a newly adopted son. The organisers are usually very good at matching you up with the parents, they take into account your personality and experiences.
It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody.

PeachyClair Fri 19-Aug-05 20:24:16


Used to be an Organiser for them, so know a bit!!

Firstly, if you are thinking about it PLEASE go along for info., we were so short that we had to close our waiting lists and we made such a huge difference (well, the Vols did really) to people who really needed it. Our famillies came from all walks of life, and had such a range of problems- disabilities (parents and children), depression, separation, isolation, young motherhood, even a Mum with a terminal disease.

Volunteers went through a training course (which us organisers experienced too), which gave them the chance to talk through any issues, etc., but also gave us the chance to understand them and place them with famillies that were carefully matched with their personalities and any preferences they stated. We then worked really hard to support them at every stage (we really did too- we took a lot of pride in making our volunteers realise how special they were), and we put on support meeting, events, all sorts.

Working for Home Start as a volunteer set a lot of poeple off on to career paths, but most Vollies did it just because it was rewarding in itself (it should be a two way thing- not just giving to the family, you need to get something back) and volunteers and famillies often formed close and long lasting friendships. others didpped in and out as their lives allowed.

There was no 'type' of volunteer- anyone with parenting experience is welcomed with open arms and much gratitude- because we need a wide range of vollies to go with a wide range of famillies.

If there's anything you want to know, CAt me or post, but I would just go along if youc are considereing it- there is no pressure at any stage.

sheepgomeep Fri 19-Aug-05 21:36:25

I've had a homestart volunteer now for nearly 3 years and I've been going to the family group for 2. I can't praise them enough for what they have done for me and my two kids, they've been there for me throughout my post natal depression, self harm and the break up with my ex partner last year. My volunteer comes once a week for a couple of hours and is very supportive.

When I finish homestart which I'm due to in September (although I'm hoping that they will let me stay on in family group for another year, I still have my volunteer) I would like to become a volunteer myself as I've seen first hand what a difference it can make to a family.

Good luck!

madmarchhare Sat 20-Aug-05 10:23:57

Thanks you lot, Im definately going to contact them. I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Now then, what about you lovely weekend ladies, any info?

Pollyanna Sat 20-Aug-05 10:45:38

I am starting the training course in September - it is about 10 weeks, once a week, I think 10-3 (this is in camden, each area might have different courses), it covers different aspects each week (like protection issues, mental health etc).
I had to go for an informal interview and fill in a form, get references and get a police check. At the end of the course they match you with a volunteer. I believe that they will pay childminding costs if you need to get childcare to go on the course, as in camden at least they don't like you to take children with you on the course. I'm really looking forward to it.

Whereabouts are you madmarchhare?

Pollyanna Sat 20-Aug-05 10:46:13

sorry, I mean they match you with a family.

madmarchhare Sat 20-Aug-05 11:31:47

Im in South Yorks Pollyanna so I imagine it will be different although the basics should be the same. We are away in September so I hope to get going after that.

PeachyClair Sat 20-Aug-05 12:56:41

The ten week course is standard, although a few schemes work around a ten or eleven week schedule, that's very much not the norm. The sbjects covered are pretty much the same too, although because a large part of each day is controlled by the volunteers- issues they want to discuss, that sort of thing- no two courses actually end up the same.

I used to love the courses and found everyone bonded well. I especially loved the lunches , our speciality at Home Start Sedgemoor, although all vary i guess.

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