Home-Start Oldham, Stockport & Tameside (HOST) is a family support charity that works with families who have at least one child under the age of five. We are one of 269 local, independent Home-Start schemes across the UK. Each scheme is responsible for its own governance and funding, has an agreement with Home-Start UK in that certain methods of working and certain quality standards are adhered to.
In return, Home-Start UK provides support and guidance to the network. All Home-Start schemes offer the core service of supporting families through volunteer home visiting but, as independent organisations, each scheme is able to develop in order to respond to local need.
We are Quality Assured by Home-Start UK every 3 years. Click here to read our most recent Quality Assurance report.
What do we do?
We are an early intervention charity that aims to support parents to give their children the best possible start in life, to improve the ability of parents to care for their children, and to prevent family crisis and breakdown by ensuring the health and social needs of families are met.
We do this by recruiting, training and supporting volunteers who go into family homes for a few hours on a weekly basis to offer practical help and much needed emotional support. Home-Start staff oversee this whole process by providing regular support and supervision to each volunteer and by regularly reviewing support with each family to ensure progress is being made.
Who do we support?
We support any family who needs us, as long as they have at least one child under five. There is no ‘typical’ Home-Start family. Our families reflect the diverse communities we serve.
The families we support are affected by any number of stress factors, the most common include stress caused by mental health issues, lack of confidence, post-natal depression, disability, bereavement, social isolation, physical illness, poor parenting skills, coping with the demands of multiple young children, families seeking asylum and in recent years, we are seeing more families affected by substantial poverty and debt.
Who are our volunteers?
All our volunteers are parents themselves, must provide satisfactory references and are subject to an enhanced DBS check. All Home-Start volunteers undertake an extensive 10 week training/preparation course, which covers topics including safeguarding and confidentiality. Once trained, volunteers are carefully matched to a family, and they will receive ongoing support and supervision.
Why does Home-Start work?
There are several factors that make our support work so well. The main ones are:
- Delivering our service in families’ own homes
This removes barriers to access, and means that families are more relaxed and therefore more likely to engage with support. It is easier to establish trusting relationships and help with routines, and it means we can see what the real issues for each family are first hand.
- Delivering our service through volunteers
Families often find it easier to relate to a volunteer than to a ‘professional’. Volunteers have more time to spend with a family and families appreciate the fact the volunteer is there because they want to be, not because they are paid to be. This makes each family feel valued.
- Delivering a support package individually tailored to each family
Consultation with each family about their support needs and how these are best met is highly effective. We know that no two families are the same, an we recognise that a family’s needs will change over time. There is no time limit on support. This means that families are not put under pressure to change over a short period of time, but are supported to make the changes they need at a sustainable pace.