H&F charity celebrates 25 years of helping families in need
Local charity Home-Start has already helped more than 20 families this year – and they’ve got no plans to stop.
From pregnancy through to primary school, the pioneering organisation supports any H&F family with a child under five. This includes help with depression, bereavement, domestic abuse, and financial difficulties.
The local charity – which recently celebrated their 25th anniversary with a gala night at the House of Lords – is financially supported by the council and has worked with local families since 2016.
“Home-Start delivers life changing support to families across the borough. They are essential in creating safer and happier homes where children and parents can flourish.” said Cllr Emma Apthorp, Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, at the anniversary event.
Putting families first
Sara is a mother supported by Home-Start. She was referred to the charity by her midwife when she was four months pregnant. At that point she was homeless, suffering from depression and had recently been discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt.
To help, Home-Start matched her with a volunteer befriender, who made weekly home visits throughout her pregnancy. Sara and her son Adam are now doing well, with Sara describing her befriender as “like a sister to me”.
Home-Start’s care is delivered by trained volunteer befrienders, therapists and trustees.
Befrienders visit families weekly, offering emotional and practical support, and the team’s therapists provide free 1:1 therapy. This includes building up new parents’ confidence and being an extra pair of hands for larger families.
The board of trustees, chaired by H&F resident Christina Smyth, guides the volunteers.
“We have a shared understanding of how crucial a child’s early years are,” explained Christina. “And we work with families to ensure every child has the best possible start in life.”
The board also includes Daphine Aikens MBE, founder of the Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank.
Something for everyone
As well as family visits, Home-Start runs the Bump-Start project which focuses on a child’s first one thousand days. Volunteers are trained for free in post-natal depression, attachment, and maternal-infant mental health.
The charity also offers longer-term therapy around family breakdown and other traumas and runs outings and events in school holidays.
And their Big Hopes Big Futures programme works to help parents and children develop the skills they need ready for the first day of school.
Outside of professional referrals, residents can self-refer themselves for support through the Home-Start website, or by phoning the Home-Start team on: 020 7724 1345.
The charity is always on the lookout for volunteers. If you would like to find out more about getting involved, register your interest through the Home-Start website.
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