We will help parents discover or rediscover the joy of parenting

- Home-Start West Dorset

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Families in West Dorset who have received our help have kindly given us these comments -

“My volunteer would see my need – she would always ask me but she could always see what needed to be done – even if I couldn’t ask her”

“ I felt I could face everything because she was coming to see me and I knew she would come – she was reliable”

“ When you are so low, you don’t even know you are broken. I had a serious operation and if I didn’t have my volunteer then it would have been my breaking point”

“ It was so valuable having someone who was flexible, who knew my family and was willing to offer me that support”

“The follow up from the Organiser was excellent”

“It’s not just the volunteer, it’s the organisers as well. I felt so like a failure but they both just kept telling me it’s OK and its going to be OK.

“My volunteer is one of the two people in the world I would leave my children with”

“What difference has Home-start made? They have allowed me to cope, they have given my children a better experience of life. They have changed the way we function as a family”

What Referrers have told us -

“Volunteers stay with the family – it’s not just a piece of work.  It’s not time-limited”

“The value is that Home-Start is available to families with chaotic houses – it’s practical support, but it’s not about doing it for the family.  It’s a more gentle approach, non-judgemental, accepting”

“Home-Start contact has been valuable, useful.  Many families have self-referred.  It’s an absolutely excellent service”

“Home-Start is getting a really good reputation in the community which is a testament to the good work it is doing”

“The good thing about Home-Start is that it pin points exactly what the families need”

“We are mindful of demand – but there are times when the response has been very quick”

“We are getting better at identifying which families will say yes to it – it takes time for families to be ready to accept it

“Dialogue is really crucial so we know how long families might have to wait”

“There are very clear guidelines for referrals and the paperwork is fine”

“It’s a very positive service which people can use in a variety of ways”

“This is a desperately needed service that is filling a big gap – really really important service for us to have”

What partners have told us -

“Home-Start recognises that sometimes what a mum needs is to have a bath while someone looks after the baby.  Sometimes it’s the little, trivial things that can push a mum over the edge”

“It’s tailored care, not one package fits all.  Volunteers are tailored to the family”

“They came up trumps, appointing Helen – she took the bit by the teeth and has fantastic experience”“Home-Start is a breath of fresh air, a holistic approach to support”

“They’re brilliant partners – the staff always come along to meetings.  Helen does extra things at meetings like organising a quiz for the children”

“Home-Start works with the family, not doing things to them.  They ask “What help do you need? What can we do?””

“Home-Start information is included in our multicultural newsletter so the service reaches other communities in the area like the traveller community”

“They’re good at getting their voices heard at events, meetings etc”

“We saw the value of Home-Start in relation to early years work”

“The value now is maintaining the access that Home-Start provides as part of the overall package preventing the need for high cost statutory interventions.  It’s a cost effective service”

“Parents value Home-Start – locally it’s valued and they stay the course. Drop out rates are higher with other services”

“It’s value is as a non-professional service.  It’s independent; it has its own identity, using a unique approach through the use of parent volunteers”

“Home-Start is very collaborative.  They have an outcomes focus – they recognise the language of outcomes.  The scheme has responded very well to working in partnership”

“They’re good at getting information to commissioners and maintain good communication”

“They have a high profile and maintain it.  They have regular press coverage. They relocated from the Children’s Centre so are now more equitable across the West Dorset area.  I’m kept abreast of developments in the scheme”

“We have a strong belief in the work of prevention and early intervention in West Dorset”

“Helen is very actively involved in various key subgroups and forums and has made good connections.  There’s a key role for Helen in Children’s Trust arrangements”

“The value of Home-Start is that it fits well with the direction of travel for Dorset County Council and the ambitions of government around local solutions.”

“What Home-Start achieves in terms of co-production is an exemplar”

“GP commissioning presents an opportunity to Home-Start.  Also the Public Health grant. The Health & Well-being Board is to be developed – there are opportunities there for Home-Start”

“They are always very committed and interested in being involved”

“Helen is one of the reps on planning and performance – she attends regularly and feeds back information that is relevant and timely – she attends when she says she will”

“If the Senior Organiser can’t attend a meeting a trustee will come instead to maintain interest and understanding – when it’s a trustee it’s more of a watching brief but trustees are able to field questions and promote the service just by being there”

“It’s clear the trustees are very passionate about the service and promote it in a positive way. It’s good they attend – it is very useful their perspective adds to the thinking of the whole group

“Their information always looks nice, it’s always well presented and clear – the newsletter is good and seems widely distributed”

“I feel that Home-Start offers a complimentary service to Children’s Centres”

“It sounds as if it is going from strength to strength, as far as I am aware, where appropriately we work collaboratively”

“It’s been a good partnership right from the start with everybody remaining child focused”

There has been really good marketing, it became well known in its early stages and particularly well known in professional circles – it’s well regarded – I haven’t heard any negative comments”

“Families are the best advocates as they do talk about how useful and how good it is”

“I wouldn’t know the volunteers but families speak well of them”

What Volunteers have told us -

“It’s fantastic”

“I really enjoy it”

“You are nurtured for you as well as for the family”

“Home-Start has the right mix of professionalism and informality”

“Before the preparation course started I thought it was going to be repetitive and drag on but now I really look forward to going”

“I really enjoyed the training, it went very quickly – the course was very professionally put together”

“It’s the ethos of Home-Start that makes the difference – it’s not full of officialdom – I like it because it is relaxed and fits into the way people live their lives”

“When the Organiser visited she really boosted my self esteem – it built me up to see what I had to offer”

“On the Prep Course I really saw the value of group conversations”

“The session about being non judgemental makes you think about how you come over to other people and it made me think about how people behaved to me when I was a young mum”

The Prep course is good for us as well as for families”

“I learned huge amounts on the Prep Course”

“It’s a privilege to go into the family’s home, based on friendship as the starting point.  Families can be fearful of professional agencies”

“The prep course was fantastic, it made me question my own thoughts and feelings by sharing with a wide range of other people with different viewpoints and perspectives”

“On the match visit, mum was very open and everything spilled out.  I was struck by mum’s openness – she was really brave.  The family had complex, multiple needs”

“The youngest child loves books and I take bags to play with for make-believe”

“Mum will think “my volunteer is coming then, so I can do all these things”.  It gives her a gap to keep on top of things for two or three hours a week”

“One of the most valuable things is to talk to other volunteers, share experiences – I feel I’m not the only one”

“I notice things that mum has done in the house and tell her “fantastic, that’s great”. If she starts to knock herself a bit, I reassure her that it’s how it goes. I say “Do you remember when I first came?  Look how far it’s come on”.  It’s easy for the family to forget”

“I check how mum is feeling then I can reassure her “Keep going with that, you’ll get there. It will happen.  The girls are such a credit to you”

“I can see above all that, whereas mum is consumed by it all, and pick up on the good things”

“It’s been a challenge at times but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ve got a lot out of it personally – learned a lot”

“When I heard all about Home-Start, I thought “that’s the thing for me!”

“It’s about accepting, being non-judgemental, and embracing all.  There’s a lot of trust involved, on both sides – you have to work on and build that trust”

“The prep course was run extremely well, the materials were excellent.  It prepared me well – all the crucial things like safeguarding and confidentiality all helped to remind me how important those things are”

“Mum’s now going to the Children’s Centre’s young mums group and she said that her Home-Start volunteer was the most important support to her”

“I’ve built a good friendship with mum now.  I take the boys to the park so mum has time for a bath or to make some calls.  We also went swimming which was a great success”

“I’ve been humbled by learning that different people have different standards.  We can laugh about issues now – I tell her “I’m putting my granny hat on now!”

“I’ve helped organise a fire safety check for the house and given her information about mediation”

“They’re excellent matches. Helen puts a lot of thought into that. The value of supervision is that it gives me opportunities to discuss any problems”

“It’s about friendliness, being non-judgemental, tolerant and having a sense of humour”

“It’s doing with, not for.  We tackle chores that mum feels defeated by and do them together. I praise mum – often young mums don’t get praise or recognition for what they’re doing”