Courtesy of the Dorset Echo
Helen Horsley, senior organiser, explained that Home-Start matches trained home-visiting parent volunteers with families from across west Dorset, Weymouth and Portland who are bringing up young children in difficult circumstances.
The volunteers visit their allocated families for two to three hours a week, for as long as necessary, helping parents to find ways to cope, and enable their children to flourish.
The scheme currently has 69 volunteers, and supports over 40 families, and Helen stressed that the aim at the heart of Home-Start is to work with families before they need other agencies.
Mr Letwin was impressed by the level of commitment shown by people signing up to support local families through Home-Start, and he gained an insight into what might motivate them by talking with two volunteers – Glynis and Mike.
Glynis, now a home-visiting parent volunteer, has experienced Home-Start from both sides.
She first heard of the scheme through a friend, and went on to contact them for support when she and her family faced difficulties.
She explained to Mr Letwin that volunteers really help families, bringing non-judgemental support and friendship into the home, and building up trust over time.
She said "Home-Start is a unique service, and it is very, very valuable".
Mike, a parent volunteer who completed his home-visiting training early this year, has additionally joined the trustee board as treasurer, bringing many years of business experience to the role.
He told Mr Letwin how being involved with a well-managed charity like Home-Start benefits volunteers, not only by enabling them to help others in their community, but also by giving them accredited training and the opportunity to gain transferable skills useful for the future.
During the visit the Trustees spoke to Mr Letwin about the ongoing challenge of securing funding and Caroline Scott, chair of trustees, also told him that Home-Start was seeing an increase in the number of families with complex needs.
For more information about Home-Start West Dorset, including volunteering or seeking family support, please visit homestartwestdorset.co.uk or call 01305 265072.