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 sourced solely from private sources.