Helping disadvantaged young children get ready for school

Supporting children into school

Home-Start York exists to support local families with children under 6 whose parents are finding their parenting journey a challenge.

They work predominantly with families experiencing poverty, those on lower incomes, in social or inadequate housing and those whose life chances are hampered by their inability to access all they need to make ends meet.

They give parents practical and emotional support, through specially trained volunteers, so they can give their children better opportunities in life.

Returning to home visiting after Covid

After Covid Home-start York needed help to return to their core home visiting service, transitioning away from telephone support and back to in-person visiting.

They received funding from JRF Coronavirus Community Fund to do just that. They successfully recruited and trained 16 new volunteers, who participated in their 23-hour Volunteer Preparation Courses run by experienced Family Case Workers.

These additional volunteers allowed Home-start to provide support to more families in need at a time when referrals numbers were increasing.

A new Mum's story

Home-start York supported a new mum aged 30. A victim of domestic abuse with an unexpected pregnancy, she was referred to Home-Start York when 34 weeks pregnant, alongside working with IDAS.

Home-start were flexible in the way their service worked to meet her specific needs. Initially their Family Case Worker met ‘Barbara*’ weekly, and after the birth of her baby she was paired with a volunteer.

Weekly visits were crucial. Barbara had no local family support and there were no grandparents.

Staff and her volunteer encouraged Barbara to get out of the house, with her volunteer supporting her to get to and join Home-start’s Baby Start new parents’ group.

Volunteer visits for 2 to 3 hours each gave Barbara time and space to work through practical and emotional issues with someone who cared about the family.

They were able to link her to food bank support and, when both she and her baby caught COVID, also provided her with essentials.

Home-start are soon to finish their work with her, having supported her and her child for a year.

Barbara has grown in confidence and is a good mum, looking forward more to the future.


*Real name not used


Reducing isolation and building friendships

During the year Home-start York volunteers supported 59 families in their home and a further 18 parents in group support.

The training included facilitating peer support groups for parents, specifically supporting the perinatal mental health of those with children under 2.

It brought parents together to reduce social isolation & build networks & friendship groups of parents.

Home-start have now returned fully to their in-person home visiting and group support something they know parents missed and gain the most benefit from.

The pandemic created opportunities to do things differently, some of which they will carry on, but also validated that what they do by providing one to one support really does create the greatest long-term change.

Confidence and connection for new parents

In feedback and evaluation, Home-start parents report feeling

  • better able to cope
  • more connected to their community and other parents with young families
  • a greater sense of confidence in their own parenting abilities

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