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Home-Start Hampshire (HSH) is a registered charity established in 2011. We have 7 trustees and 173 trained volunteers offering regular emotional and practical support to families facing challenging and complex needs, to help give their children the best possible start in life. Our aim is to build resilience, independence, and empowerment for the families we support. Our volunteers, who are appropriately ‘matched’, work alongside parents, in their own homes, to empower them to cope with the stresses and strains of life.
Challenging circumstances can have a detrimental effect on parents and those in a caring role, as well as on children’s self-esteem, motivation, and confidence. This reduces the parents’ capacity to parent effectively, and they become socially isolated and experience poor mental health. For the children this potentially leads to them lacking essential skills, feeling dis-empowered, forming unsuitable or poor relationships, failing to meet developmental milestones, displaying behavioral or psychological difficulties, failing to achieve academically, and feeling socially isolated.
Our charity also benefits the volunteers as they receive training, are able to build on skills that will impact their personal and professional development, build friendships, and it can generate a sense of purpose, achievement and wellbeing as well as increase confidence and resilience.
We are looking to fund 50% of our annual family support costs in the Rushmoor and Hart areas of Hampshire. We consistently support 40-50 families a month in these areas, and we run family support groups across both areas. This funding bid is to support our existing core work across Rushmoor and Hart. We need £28,066.40. Of this £12,498.85 is to assist the support group, and £15,567.55 would be towards the salary of the Family Coordinator.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a high demand for support from parents with children under 1-year-old (our high needs age group), with 35% as compared to the national average of 23% (HSUK annual survey). 77% of our families stated they have had concerns around their children’s language skills since the pandemic, which is higher than the national average of 60%. We also found that 62% of our families reported that their children were more ‘clingy’ since the pandemic, again was a lot higher than the national average of 40%.
Key findings –
• 78% of our families are feeling cut off from friends and family
• 62% are suffering from poor sleep
• 65% have babies or children who have not been able to mix with others
• 51% worry about their child’s / children’s wellbeing
• 54% are concerned about managing their children’s behavior
• 35% of our families are managing on reduced income due to the pandemic and 49% are concerned about lack of money.
• 57% are concerned about keeping up with family routines
• 84% are finding being a parent more challenging than ever this past year
These circumstances have been significantly exacerbated by COVID-19. 2020 has been a challenging time for all and has impacted our families who are already disadvantaged and are now finding even more challenges to deal with. During the lockdowns 43% of parents have reported feeling anxious and 33% admitting to being out of their depth when it came to supporting their children during those timesn (HSUK Babes In Lockdown National Report). New families, in particular, are finding their ability to cope with the perinatal period had been impacted as a result of COVID-19 with almost 7 in 10 believing the changes brought about by COVID-19 were affecting their unborn baby, or young child. 6 in 10 (61%) parents shared significant concerns about their mental health yet only one third expressed confidence in being able to access mental health support if required.
The evidence suggests the pandemic will cast a long shadow, both in the increased stressors on caregiving relationships and in the secondary impacts on parents, babies and children themselves. Specific challenges in the community we support include financial hardship due to furlough/redundancy, social isolation for families, difficult family breakdown situations with long resolution times, mental health concerns due to anxiety over the family future and wellbeing, and reduced face to face community support such as parenting groups and networks.
The good news is that 87% of respondents ‘agreed’ and ‘strongly agreed’ that Home-Start Hampshire had made a positive difference to their family. 82% felt that getting support from a volunteer rather than a professional made this feel more comfortable. Our services and volunteers are helping families by supporting residents to combat these issues. Empowering them to become socially included within their community and empower them to be able to confidently tackle these challenges independently. This is evident in feedback we have received from families we have supported:
“Someone to talk to as I don't have any friends up here and extra support if needed”
“Outside support/impartial separate from friends and family to give advice and not feel judged support with my health issues”
“The weekly phone calls from a volunteer are brilliant, I looked forward to having a chat with another adult”
“Home-Start Hampshire was there for us when no other service or organisation was. They gave me exactly what I needed – support, advice, and positivity”
We want to support our existing group work and 1-1 support in Rushmoor and Hart to tackle this need, reduce social isolation and create a sense of community between our families. A group is often an ideal opportunity to bring people across a wide demographic area together, strengthening relationships and introducing people to local resources to promote community cohesion. Hampshire has many rural areas and families can become isolated; this is particularly relevant in the current climate as many new parents have missed out on the opportunity to socialise with other families, develop relationships and establish networks of support. Support via a group can provide a steppingstone for parents as their resilience and confidence improve and, where applicable, they start to access and utilise other local resources. We are rooted within the community we serve, working closely with other local charities and resources that complement and boost the support we offer.
The Family Co-ordinator manages and trains the local volunteers, visits families to provide one-one support, manages safeguarding and all projects in the local area.
The outcomes we would expect from families through attending the group include:
• Development of healthier lifestyles
• Parents become less isolated having created new friendships and children learn to socialise and make friends
• Parents learn skills for life such as budgeting and household management and gain confidence in their parenting skills
• Parents are supported through the journey to school readiness and with school engagement (where age-appropriate)
It is evident that Home-Start Hampshire is making a positive and effective impact on families who just need a helping hand to get them back on their feet to feel resilient, independent, and empowered. Encouraging them to build their self-esteem, motivation, and confidence to tackle life stresses and give their children the best chance in life. Through our family support group, we hope to create a sense of community, reducing social isolation, building relationships, and a support network. We hope that this will help to resolve some concerns parents have had around speech development and clinginess seen in children since the pandemic.