About Us

Home-Start Reading has served Reading families since 1984.  In recent years we have seen many families struggle to cope with mental ill-health and physical disability, bereavement, broken family relationships, domestic abuse, poor housing and poverty. We see parents who are overwhelmed by their difficulties, frequently feeling isolated and lacking the self-confidence and strategies to break the cycle and give their little children the time and care that will ensure they have the best possible start in life.

We don’t put on parenting courses, but rather, our home-visiting volunteers spend up to a year with a family, visiting every week for a few hours,  as a sympathetic and knowledgeable friend, giving both emotional and practical support with whatever issues  they face.  They are backed up by a small professional staff who can intervene in difficult situations, advise on other sources of help and advice, and generally ensure that the family’s needs are being fully addressed. The volunteer might go with a parent to look after the child(ren) while they are having a consultation at the hospital, the GP,  an older child’s school,  legal or financial advice services; she will help  establish routines for eating, sleeping, toileting, taking exercise, and by example will model ways of  dealing with a child’s  difficult behaviour or ways of  playing with the child to encourage  sociability and readiness for nursery or school.

For some families, facing very similar problems but hard for the statutory children’s services to reach, we run two Family Groups every week – in Whitley and Tilehurst – where our playleaders draw in the parents to take part in structured play activities that help the children with their language and communication and their social development and especially, just to find that they can have fun with their children. Families feel comfortable in the Groups, where they know they will not be ‘looked down on’ and our staff empower them to manage their children’s health and wellbeing, and to build supportive friendships with other families. We also fill a noticeable gap in support for women with postnatal depression or anxiety during the first two years after the birth of a child.  We run  confidential,  relaxed and friendly ‘Mums in Mind’ courses, over 6 weeks, combining craft and conversation, together with information about postnatal mental illness and the help of trained staff in understanding difficult feelings and developing  techniques for coping better.

All our services are free of charge and all our funding is source solely from private sources.

Reading Half Marathon 2020

5th April 2020

We have places available if you would like to run on our behalf. We can help with registration, a branded running top, and the loudest cheers to spur you on on the day!

Our amazing runners this year.


After the success of the Reading Half Marathon in April, which raised an awesome amount - nearly £7000 - of sponsorship,  we are once again hoping to have a great turn out when the event returns on 5th April next year. Some of our staff are already in training, and we want to have a strong team of runners representing us in 2020. If you would like to be part of #TeamHomeStartReading please do get in touch. It promises to be an inspiring day. And if you don't feel like running is for you, we could still use your help; we are also keen to hear from anyone who can spare some time on the day helping us man water stations and act as marshals... and of course cheer on our amazing runners.

Easy ways to help us raise funds

There are a couple of super simple ways that you can help us raise funds whilst doing your online shopping, that won’t cost you a penny. Both Amazon Smile and Easyfundraising donate to your chosen charity when you sign up with them. Its only pennies from each purchase, but that can quickly add up to a significant sum if everyone remembers to shop via one of the services when ordering online. Full guides can be found on our social media, but it really is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes to register.

Amazon Smile
Easy Fundraising

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