Slough family charity pleas for volunteer support

A Slough-based charity supporting parents with young children is calling for more volunteer support as it gears up for a return to face-to-face help.

As lockdown restrictions ease, Home-Start Slough is looking to get back to its more hands-on level of support it provides to families facing tough times in the town.

Volunteers provide practical help, emotional support, friendship and fun to parents struggling to cope with difficulties, which can include mental health problems, physical disability, financial struggles and abuse.

Specially-trained volunteers can help assist mothers through post-natal depression, provide an extra pair of hands for busy parents, or give them a rest by taking their children to the park.

Anne Gilbert, scheme manager at Home-Start, thanked the volunteers who carried on providing telephone support to families during lockdown but is now pleading for more volunteers to help families, many of whom are struggling to recover from the pandemic.

The charity has a waiting list of those needing its vital services and can only carry out its work with the help of its volunteers, Anne added.

It also lost ‘a chunk’ of its volunteer base when the support moved away from in-person help, with many preferring to work on the pandemic front line with charities such as the foodbanks.

Anne said that she is ‘incredibly grateful’ to those who have offered telephone support to families, but was now in need of more people.

“It is rewarding to know that you are making a massive difference to these families,” she said. “Anything that they [volunteers] can do, whether it is a phone call once a week or whether they can get back into the home, the feel good factor is amazing.”

Anne added that the level of training and support provided by Home-Start is ‘absolutely brilliant’ and covers aspects such as safeguarding, communication with families and what to expect on the job.

“Volunteers are as prepared as they can be for anything,” she said. “And we celebrate our volunteers – each year we will put on a party or event, so they feel part of the team.

“We do not want them to feel separate. We could not run our service without our volunteers, that is how important they are to us.”

At the moment, Home-Start is supporting about 50 core families, with approximately 38 active volunteers.

It also runs an allotment project with pregnant women in Wexham which it needs female volunteers for.

“All the volunteers we have got are at full capacity,” Anne said. “After the summer going forward, we need another 20 volunteers because the waiting list will just get larger.”

Those interested in volunteering with Home-Start Slough should email office@hsslough.co.uk and visit hsslough.co.uk for more information.

Volunteers’ Week 2021 is running from Tuesday until Monday, June 7.

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