With more volunteers urgently needed to help support local families, Home-Start Guernsey co-ordinator, Caroline Sauvarin told us what it entails, while Bailiwick Express Guernsey Editor, Laura Clayton told us why she enjoys volunteering for the charity so much.
Home-Start is a national charity, which offers a family support service in Guernsey to help families with at least one child under seven.
Pictured: Home-Start volunteers work with families with at least one child under seven years old.
The families which Home-Start supports are deemed as being 'under stress' for a variety of reasons, with volunteers offering 'support, friendship and practical help.'
Home-Start also runs the Dragonflies groups, funded by the Sarah Groves Foundation, which are run in three locations across the island each week.
The Dragonflies groups are run by Caroline, supported by volunteers, at Roseville on Tuesday mornings, Les Camps hall on Thursday mornings and at Styx on Friday mornings. Volunteers are need to help run the groups, and can contact Caroline on 720382 for more information.
Caroline also needs more volunteers to work one-on-one with families across the island, in their own homes.
An eight week training course is due to start in April, and Caroline says the only criteria to sign up is that you must either be a parent yourself or have relevant experience of working with families and children.
Pictured: Home-Start volunteer Ally, who runs the Dragonflies groups, and Home-Start coordinator Caroline.
"We need more volunteers, who are able to commit to Home-Start for at least one year after completing an 8 week training programme.
"The work our volunteers do is seen as hugely rewarding for both themselves, and the families they support. We are a charity that offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children within their local community.
"Home-Start offers a unique service, recruiting and training volunteers – who are usually parents themselves – to visit families at home who have at least one child under the age of seven to offer informal, friendly and confidential support. It is our goal to help give children the best possible start in life, and Home-Start supports parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationships with their children and help them in the local community.
Pictured: Home-Start supports families from all walks of life, in many different ways.
"We're seeing an influx of referrals for day time support and would like to be able to support as many of these families as possible with the use of volunteers.
"We've already got volunteers from all walks of life and they all bring a variety of life experiences to their role with Home-Start. They attend a preparation course of 24 hours spread over 8 weeks and then visit a family weekly for 2-3 hours with regular support from the staff. Our volunteers reassure families that it is not unusual to experience stress and pressure while bringing up children and they emphasise the positive aspects of family life, helping to put the fun back into families.
"Families supported by us come from all sections of Guernsey’s community and may ask for support for many reasons; perhaps they are struggling with postnatal illness, a child’s disability, family breakdown, bereavement or maybe they feel isolated and unable to connect with the local community.
"Whatever the reason, Home-Start provides non-judgemental practical and emotional support and helps build the family’s confidence and ability to cope."
One of the volunteers working with Home-Start Guernsey is Express Editor Laura Clayton, who has supported two families over the last three years, as well as helping out at the former Dragonflies group aimed at dads and other male carers.
"I completed my training course during the evenings, while working full time and a single parent myself. It was something I really wanted to do, to be able to help other families who perhaps aren't as lucky as me in terms of the support network I have around me.
"Despite working in a high pressured industry, with irregular hours and lots of demands on my time, I have found my employers to be very supportive, and I think volunteering has in turn benefited my work, as it has widened my outlook on life and the community we live in.
"I've been very lucky with the families I have been assigned to support, that in one case in particular they have become friends. I have seen the family blossom and in turn have benefited from being a part of their lives and being a small part of their journey.
"I would encourage anyone who is able to, to consider volunteering, not just for Home-Start but for a charity which appeals to them for their own personal reasons.
"I have learnt a lot about myself through my placements, as well as the families I've supported. Being able to make a difference in their lives has enriched my life as well.
"Home-Start has seen a huge number of success stories over the years it has worked in Guernsey, and to be able to continue that work is something I am so pleased to be part of."
To find out more about volunteering contact Caroline by calling 720382 or email email@example.com.
Pictured: Home-Start's volunteers at work.
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