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Volunteers – Helping Out

Volunteer for Home-Start and make a difference to families in West Somerset

breastfeeding

We are constantly running volunteer preparation courses, please contact Home-start if you are interested in becoming a Home-start volunteer.

We recruit and train local volunteers, men as well as women, to help families with young children. Our volunteers, who know about being a parent, support other parents by visiting them in their own homes for 2 – 3 each week.

Our support is tailored to meet the individual needs of the family. Some might need someone to talk to, others may need more practical support with meal planning and cooking, reading with the children, going to a local park, or finding out about how to access local services.

The only real ‘qualification’ needed is experience of the care of young children. Friendliness and a caring attitude are essential as well as an understanding of the pressure of parenting and a commitment to confidentiality. We value people who don’t judge others; people who will respect the fact that they have been invited into a family’s home; people who will treat a parent or carer as an equal.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the families that I have and hope that I helped them in some way. I also want to say what a wonderful group of people run the organisation here in Minehead, each one of you is a great person and you put so much time and effort into running not only the families, but the volunteers as well. I will always consider you ‘friends’.”

Training for home visiting volunteers

We give high priority to the training and support of all our volunteers. The process begins with an informal interview in your home during which you can find out exactly what is involved in volunteering for Home-Start.

If you decide to proceed you will be invited to complete an application form which includes providing names of two referees. If your application meets the requirements you will be invited to join the next volunteer preparation course.

The course usually takes place during the autumn term each year (funding permitting) during one session per week over several weeks. It is an informal course which includes policies and practice relating to safeguarding the welfare of children, confidentiality, communication skills, values and attitudes and much more.

We offer an accreditation option with the Open College Network which means that those volunteers who choose to can create a portfolio of evidence of their learning and gain level 2 credits as formal recognition of their Home-Start training. During the course a DBS check will be carried out and, if you are a driver, you will be asked to bring in copies of your driving documents. On completion of the course you will have a further one-to-one opportunity to discuss your readiness for home visiting.

Volunteer at Home-Start West SomersetGetting going

When your training, references and checks are complete you will be ready to be matched with a family. We take the ‘matching’ process very seriously so we will only contact you about visiting a family when we feel that you have the skills, experience and qualities appropriate to the needs identified by the family.

We will have visited them first and done a risk assessment of the proposed visiting arrangement. The first time you meet the family one of the organisers will be with you. After the visit we will check that you felt comfortable about the arrangement before you begin weekly visits on your own. You can claim mileage allowance of 45p per mile for getting to and from your visits. You will also be required to keep and submit a monthly diary about your visits. Whilst matched with a family you will have supervision meetings with one of the organisers every 6 weeks. There is also an ongoing programme of training and social events available to volunteers.

What would you get out of volunteering for Home-Start?

The knowledge that you are actively doing something to make a difference to your local community and directly to the lives of children, a boost to your confidence, new skills, new friends, perhaps even a step towards a career in social care.

“I was really happy to do what I did for my Home-Start family. The Home-Start boundaries allowed a level of detachment and reflection for me from which I actually learnt a lot myself. It was a most humbling and emotional experience.”

Our volunteer team

We currently have 40 volunteers in the home visiting team. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and are of varying ages. Some have young children of their own while others are grandparents. Some are retired professionals and others are still working and fitting volunteering into their spare time. Each of them brings a unique set of skills, experience and qualities to their role at Home-Start.

Volunteers who joined the team in 2013:

Some of the HSWS Volunteers

Some of those we've helped

How else can you help?

Home visiting is not the only way to get involved. Perhaps you could consider whether you have the skills needed to become a volunteer trustee, advisor, helper at events or fundraiser.

Thank you for considering a voluntary role with Home-Start West Somerset. Together we can make a difference.

If you’re a volunteer, get downloads you’ll need!

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