Friday June 26th 2015
Some parents in Midlothian and Edinburgh find family life a bit of a struggle.
But you could help by becoming a fully trained volunteer with Home Link Family Support; recent proud winners of the Midlothian Volunteer Team of the Year award.
Home Link Family Support volunteers visit families with pre-school children who need help and encouragement. Some families have no grandparents or aunties to help them out when things get stressful; some are new to the area and need someone to help them settle in. Others may have mild Post Natal Depression and need someone kind to talk to. We also work specifically with young parents in Midlothian who might need extra support. The families all have at least one child under five and there may be older children in the family too.
Home Link will train you to visit a family for 2-3 hours a week to offer emotional and practical support. Each volunteer is matched with one family for about a year in order to build up a really trusting relationship. It’s very simple but it makes a big difference to a family that’s feeling lonely and isolated. A volunteer explains: ‘I was matched with a young girl who had just had a baby boy with complex and severe health and learning difficulties. A range of professionals were involved in the care of her son, but she had little support of her own. So we’d meet most weeks for about 2 hours. Sometimes I’d go in for coffee, usually we went out, and we’d chat. Sometimes about her son, sometimes about herself, sometimes about the other issues going on in her family. Sometimes we’d just talk about shoes.’
Volunteers are very well looked after. You’ll have a named Project Worker who will meet you regularly to make sure everything is going well for you. We’ll pay all travel and expenses. We’ll also offer you optional extra training in First Aid, Mental Health, Child Literacy and Play.
Each family is different but volunteers generally do a lot of non-judgemental listening, praising and encouragement for the parents. And with the children they read books, play, go outside for fun and games, help with homework, maybe a bit of baking or swimming. Anything you do is guaranteed to brighten up a family’s week and help them to gain the confidence and resilience that will give the children a positive start in life.
The volunteers are all sorts of people – students who want solid experience to match their courses, retired people with energy to spare, people who are thinking of changing career and want to dip a toe into Children and Families work, or people who just remember how tricky those early years were and want to help out. You need to be over 18 but you do not need to be a parent to volunteer.
A recent volunteer said: “I’ve very much enjoyed my time working with Home Link. The training opportunities are fantastic and helped me in getting my current job. I value the 2 hours I spend a week with my Home Link family, and it is a good feeling to know that I’m helping them and it has allowed me to meet some wonderful people.”
Home Link Family Support works in the whole of Midlothian and South Edinburgh. It is funded by Midlothian Council, City of Edinburgh Council, the Big Lottery, The Robertson Trust, The Cattanach Trust, People’s Postcode Lottery, The Scottish Government.
Get in touch to find out more
Phone: 0131 661 0890
Mum Gail, Volunteer Kate and baby Rosie
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