Can You Spare A Few Hours A Week?

Home-Start looking for parents to support parents

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Home StartHome-Start Hounslow is a local charity that offers an outreach service through volunteers giving regular support, friendship and practical help to families who are experiencing a variety of difficulties, including loneliness and isolation, ill health, post-natal depression, disabilities, bereavement, lone-parenting and coping with several pre-school children.

Volunteers are all ages and from all walks of life, all Home-Start asks is that they have parenting experience, attend their volunteer preparation course, and can spare two or three hours a week to visit someone.

Here is the story of one mum who was helped by Home-Start volunteers. It’s a great example of how just a couple of hours a week can make such a huge difference to people’s lives, and help prevent a family spiralling into crisis.

Emma had twin babies and a two year old. Her husband worked all day, she had no family living nearby and she felt very isolated. She had problems with an abusive neighbour, yet couldn’t easily leave her house. Life was very difficult and she felt emotionally and physically drained. She says:

Boy painting hands“I’d feel huge relief when my volunteer would walk through the door. She would come in, and there would be someone who could take a baby off me. I also had a toddler who needed attention. My volunteer would give that one-to-one time with my toddler, which allowed me to have quiet time with my babies. Or look after my babies while I enjoyed special time with my toddler. Other times she’d give me a break just to catch up on some much needed sleep for a few minutes.

"Without Home-Start Hounslow, I would have been very isolated. It’s very difficult to leave the house with three young children and one of my boys had reflux so he was constantly being sick, which meant we couldn’t visit people or get out very easily. Certainly with three babies, having a spare pair of hands when I had to get to appointments was a life-saver. I don’t know how I would have managed otherwise.

"I had one morning in the week to look forward to, when I knew someone would come to help me. I could do something with my children that I was always so frustrated I couldn’t otherwise do. We’d often do painting and crafty things which was always a nightmare to try and do on my own. But with an extra pair of hands we could plan something fun on the day she was here.

“Through Home-Start Hounslow I felt there was always someone there, in person or at the end of the phone, when we were going through difficult times, offering practical help but most importantly emotional support. It’s as if we had a really good friend there to rejoice with us in the little successes of family life. I really hope that in the future I may aspire to be a volunteer too, as I would love to be able to be there for someone else in their difficult and joyful times.”

Home-Start Hounslow runs its next volunteer preparation course every Friday (excluding school holidays) from 11 May to 20 July 2012, from 9.45am-2.45pm. It takes place in Hounslow and travel costs are reimbursed by the charity.

Once volunteers have completed the course and had a CRB check, they will be matched with a family to offer emotional and practical support and friendship for a couple of hours a week.

If you would like to make a real difference to parents’ and children’s lives, then please get in touch with Margaret O’Connor on 020 8577 9552, or email



May 2, 2012