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Volunteers are effective at supporting families in crisis - now we must invest in them, says Home-Start

Wed 06 May 2009, Category: Press Release

The country's leading family support charity is calling for greater levels of investment in volunteering; to help address growing levels of social exclusion and deprivation in families and to improve help for parents and their young children.

A briefing paper published by Home-Start today (Tuesday 12 May), shows that Home-Start volunteers can help families grow in confidence so that they move into work and out of poverty, and offer families a bridge into the community.

The briefing paper also shows the benefits of volunteering to volunteers themselves, helping build their skills and confidence and offering a route into training and employment.

Home-Start is the largest volunteer family support charity in the UK. 15,000 home-visiting volunteers support more than 70,000 parents and children each year in more than 330 communities. Home-Start volunteers provide a sound parenting role model based on accredited training and parenting experience. They provide practical help and emotional support to help move parents forward - building their parenting skills and ability to cope with family life. Volunteers build a trusting relationship with the families they support and spend an average of four hours each week with them.

"We know our volunteers work effectively with families with complex needs", says Kay Bews, chief executive of Home-Start UK. "We want greater recognition of the role and effectiveness of volunteers in delivering family support services from national policy makers and local children's services commissioners.

"The personal, long term interaction that our volunteers have with the parents and children they support cannot be replicated by pressured statutory or health services. The additional time that volunteers give to families and the added value that they bring to family support services builds social capital in the community and helps the personal development of both the families and the volunteers.

"Volunteers working with families within their communities and trained in safeguarding children are already able to respond to the recent call by Lord Laming that child protection is a community wide responsibility, not just the brief of social workers.

"We are calling for:

  • a shared commitment to sustaining our existing, well trained network of volunteers across the UK;
  • designated funds to help Home-Start respond to growing levels of demand and provide home-visiting volunteers in every community across the UK;
  • a shared commitment to stabilise and develop existing volunteers services, rather than create new systems and programmes;
  • new volunteer-based partnerships and initiatives to address family support needs and growing levels of social exclusion and deprivation."
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I know that a family will get the 1:2:1 support that they need. The support will help with families struggling with domestic crisis, isolation, illness, social deprivation etc.

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