Home-Start Southwark

Because childhood can't wait: supporting families with children under 5 in Southwark, helping parents build better lives for their children through volunteer support

Grant awarded: £30,000 a year for 3 years: 2020-2023 - unrestricted; Cost of Living uplift grant £5,000

Home Start Southwark family pictureMost parents would agree that being a parent, wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, isn’t always easy. Combine that with additional pressures such as illness or financial worries, and without the support of family and friends, the pressures can seem overwhelming.

Home-start Southwark provides practical and emotional support to families in Southwark and parts of Lewisham who are pregnant or have children under 5.  We work alongside parents to empower them to feel more able to cope with life’s challenges, and create happier, healthier lives for their children – because childhood can’t wait.  

Within the framework set by our umbrella organisation, Home-start UK, we deliver a simple but effective model of matching trained, experienced volunteers with families, who meet once a week. Objectives are agreed with the family, and while our work supports families practically; for example developing routines, money management, or play and development activities, the real transformation we see comes from the relationship between the volunteer and the family, increasing confidence, empowering agency over change and building resilience to manage challenges beyond the period of our support. Responding to needs in the community, we also deliver groups and parenting programmes, which reduce isolation through developing peer support, and increase parenting skills.

Fatima 's story

Fatima (not real name) received support due to postnatal depression and anxiety following extensive childhood trauma and estrangement from her family support network. At the time of referral, she was unable to leave the home without support and professionals were concerned about her attachment to her baby and relationships with her older children, with the potential for this to escalate to emotional abuse. The support from her volunteer increased her confidence and sense of self-worth. As Fatima’s confidence increased, the impact of her anxiety on her children decreased, she began enjoying time with them, accessing the community independently, and relationships were rebuilt. Fatima was able to reflect on this as her support came to an end, and aims to use her experience to volunteer with us in the future:

Home-Start has been so helpful – you don’t know how much you’re doing for us. These visits can make you as a person – without you I don’t know where I’d be – its been so supportive. She changed a completely hopeless day into a hopeful one. I was having a really bad day and had too much to do and no motivation to do it – I just didn’t want to get up. Because she helped me work out what to do, it was all ok and I could do it by myself. Very few people are able to change things around like that for someone. It was a very significant day for me.' - Fatima

'Working with the Peter Minet Trust has been amazingly helpful for our organisation. Their commitment to unrestricted funding has given us the freedom to be totally flexible in our response to changing community needs. In addition, the process for applying and reporting has been simplified so that our time and effort can be concentrated on enabling lasting change in children and families lives. Rachel and the Trustees show a genuine interest in what we do and the impact it has on our community, and our conversations are always rewarding.  The Trust's approach to funding is highly refreshing and something we would love to see implemented by other trusts and foundations.' - Cheryl Rhodes, Director, Home-Start Southwark

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