Homestart Merton continues to support our local families
Sharon Ashby, Scheme Manager, tells YMT about Homestart’s invaluable support to vulnerable families in the borough:
Home-Start Merton has been supporting local families since 1993 and offers free support, friendship and practical help to families with at least one child under 11. Families are visited regularly in their own homes by volunteers who have all had experience of parenting, and know how hard it can sometimes be.
We understand that parenting is not always easy, add in pressures such as illness, financial worries, children’s challenging behaviour, loneliness, isolation, relationship difficulties and lone parenting along with other issues can challenge parents who can sometimes become very overwhelmed.
Our volunteers visit the family regularly, usually once a week for 2-3 hours in the family’s home. Our volunteers offer friendly support as long as a parent needs it. They understand that when bringing up children, problems are not unusual. Our volunteers offer reassurance, a listening ear, and an extra pair of hands. One of the biggest compliments a family can give us after they have received support from Home-Start Merton, is when they decide to become volunteers themselves, to give something back. The savings value of a volunteer’s support is £11 per hour, which is a huge and valuable resource.
Until 31 March 2016 our service had been commissioned by the London Borough of Merton as part of their Early Help Strategy. During this period we had regular monitoring meetings with the children’s services Commissioning Team which were positive and supportive of our service. Unfortunately last November we were informed that our service would not be recommissioned for the new financial year, due to reductions in council funding.
While this news crushed us we knew we had to make some serious decisions in order to continue to offer support to local families. Our proactive trustee board began to meet monthly to plan for Home-Start’s future. The staff team remained positive throughout but sadly three members of staff left at the end of March. As of the 1 April 2016 the restructure left me, Sharon Ashby as Manager, and Eleanor Shelley as administrator, delivering our service with a team of committed volunteers. In order for the service to continue the trustees made the decision to sell our building at 227 Western Road and we have moved into Merton Youth Office, 21 Leyton Road, London SW19 1DL.
During this time Merton's Commissioning Team have remained both supportive and sensitive to the changes Home-Start have been going through and have given us offers of support in any future funding application opportunities.
If you would like to make a referral to Homestart please see our referrers home page: http://homestartmerton.co.uk/referrers-page/ call 020 8646 6044 or email firstname.lastname@example.org