Support and friendship for families
Support and friendship for families
Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
We believe that talking to a person is one of the best ways of finding out about our service, or of raising any concerns. So, in most cases we recommend that you speak to our staff if there is anything you want to know.
But here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Home-Start.
Review the list below. To reveal the answer to a question click on the question, or the small + symbol on the right hand side of box. If you have any questions that you think might be helpful to add to this section to help other users please use our contact us form to let us know.
How do I get Home-Start help?
If you think that you could benefit from the support call our office on 01784 463200 or click here to send us a contact us message.
Other people may be referred to their local Home-Start by a health visitor, doctor or other professional. More information for professionals is found on our website’s Refer a Family page.
What if there is no Home-Start near me?
Home-Start is working in over 200 communities across the UK, but there are some areas where there is no local Home-Start scheme.
If you are not close enough to qualify for our support, we’d still like to try to help a little by advising of other organisations who might be able to. Contact us here.
If someone has referred me to Home-Start do I have to take it?
No, Home-Start’s support is entirely voluntary, and confidential. None of the other support you may be receiving will depend on working with Home-Start.
Will people think I am a bad parent if I have to ask for support from Home-Start?
We at Home-Start pride ourselves on being non-judgemental; therefore, no one from Home-Start will think you are a bad parent. All parents go through difficult times at some point in their lives; all we want to do is help you if we can.
Who will know that Home-Start is supporting me?
The only people who will know are you, staff at Home-Start, your volunteer and the person who referred you to us. We will discuss with you which authorities, if any, you may be involved with and discuss any possible need to share this information with them. All information is treated in the strictest confidence, except where a child is perceived to be at risk of harm. Please see our privacy notice for further information.
Will I have to pay for support?
Home-Start support is completely free. You will not have to pay for your support from Home-Start.
We are a charity and raise funds to be able to support parents and children. See the Fundraising page of our website to view our current principal funders. Also, see our latest annual report to find a list of all our generous supporters.
How do you decide which volunteer would be best for me?
When you are referred to us a member of staff will arrange a meeting to discuss the sort of help you need. Our Co-ordinator will then try to match you with a suitable volunteer who is available based on your needs and the volunteer’s skills.
What kind of thing can Home-Start support me with?
A Home-Start volunteer can help you through a really wide range of problems.
Since 1973 Home-Start has been tailor-making our support to help families with multiple births, where there is bereavement or illness, disability or addiction, or where there is mental ill-health, or money or housing problems. In most cases Home-Start helps where families feel isolated and have no local support.
How would a volunteer help me?
Your volunteer will be there to listen to you and give you encouragement; they will offer you emotional and practical support. For two to three hours every week you will have someone who is there to help you and who you can share things with.
My child is over five years old, can I still get help?
Home-Start’s work is based on supporting families with at least one child under five and Home-Start Spelthorne does not currently have funding to be able to provide support to families whose youngest child is over the age of five.
Are there any reasons why Home-Start will not be able to support me?
We would love to be able to help absolutely everyone who asks, but we are a charity and sometimes we just can’t.
We won’t be able to help:
- If all our volunteers are already supporting other families.
- If there is not enough funding to train more volunteers.
- If you have a very complex set of problems and we don’t have a really experienced volunteer available.
- If you need more support that our befriending volunteers can give – in which case we will always recommend other kinds of support for you and put you in touch if we can.
- If there is some reason our volunteer would not be safe supporting you.
Is there any reason why Home-Start would stop supporting me?
Our support is given freely by the volunteers and received freely by families. Each has a choice about whether they continue with the relationship.
Generally, we would stop supporting you:
- When your youngest child turns five or goes to school full time.
- If your circumstances have got better and you feel you can cope, and want to free up your volunteer to help another family.
- If you decide you no longer want our support.
- If your volunteer’s circumstances change and they have to stop volunteering. If this happens we will ask if you would like to be supported by another of our available volunteers.
- If, for any reason, our volunteer is no longer safe coming to your home to support you.
I am sure other families need help more than me
Perhaps, but if you are struggling when your children are young we will try to help. Do not think that your problems are not severe enough to ask. If we can’t help you we will try to recommend others who might be able to.
Do you support families like mine?
We can support any family living within the Borough of Spelthorne who has a child under the age of 5, for example:
Lone parents, married couples, unmarried couples, grandparents caring for grandchildren, step parents; adoptive parents, multiple births, families where a parent is in the armed forces, families where a parent is in prison, families where social care or other agencies are involved, wealthy families, families where money is tight, for any gender, ethnicity or asylum/immigration status…and many others in different situations.
What if I've got a worry or complaint about my support?
First talk to your contact in the Home-Start Spelthorne office. We hope they will be able to put your mind at rest.
If you want to take your worry on to a formal complaint, you should ask to have a copy of our Home-Start Spelthorne complaints policy. Such a complaint would be handled independently by one of our Trustees who will follow national guidelines for investigating and making a decision.
Because of the legal and charitable structure of Home-Start (each Scheme is an independent charity) Home-Start UK is unable to make decisions on complaints about local Home-Start Schemes.
What can I do to help support Home-Start Spelthorne?
There are lots of ways that you can get involved!
Becoming a Home-Visiting Volunteer. Can I do it?
We want our Home-Visiting volunteers to be local people who have parenting experience and who genuinely want to support families who need help. Without these volunteers we would not be able to deliver our service. We provide training for new volunteers which lasts for approximately 40 hours; usually one session a week, spread over eight weeks. At the training sessions there will be an opportunity to ask questions and meet existing volunteers. Following the training, and having been matched to a family, each volunteer continues to be supported by our staff and they will meet up regularly to ensure all is going well.
I haven't done any training for years and I didn't do very well at school. Will there be a lot of writing involved in the training or a test at the end?
We keep writing to an absolute minimum and there are no tests. We aim to make the preparation course as enjoyable and “hands on” as possible.
What kind of things would I be doing as a Home-Visiting Volunteer with my family?
It depends on the type of support the family needs. They may need help in taking their children to the park; or to the local children’s centre; they might want someone to talk to; or help in organising their home or money. Before we match a home-visiting volunteer with a family we discuss with them the type of support needed and then the volunteer is free to decide if they can meet that need.
Becoming a Trustee. Will I need to have a professional skill to be a Trustee?
No, we require some trustees with professional skills but we are also looking for people who have experience of organising, have common sense and are happy to give their time.
As a Trustee would there be any personal financial risk if things go wrong with Home-Start Spelthorne?
No, we are a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which means that the board members are not personally liable for financial difficulties within the charity.
I would like to help but I cannot commit weekly, what can I do?
Home-Start Spelthorne has a group of valuable Friends who help out in any way they can. Please see the Friends of Home-Start Spelthorne page of our website.