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Family support volunteers are the heart of Home-Start.
Tens of thousands of people volunteer for Home-Start each year, giving their time to support a family finding it hard to cope. Most of our volunteers know what it’s like to be a parent, because they’ve raised children themselves. They offer friendship and practical help to other parents, because they know what a tough job parenting can be.

Each family volunteer will take part in a course to prepare them for supporting a family. The course will vary from country to country, but each aims to give volunteers the practical skills they will need and an understanding of how Home-Start works.

After the course, a volunteer is matched to a family in need of support and begins to visit the family, generally in the family’s home for a couple of hours each week. The volunteer will try to build a friendship with the parent or parents and with the children – like any relationship, it is impossible to predict how it will develop, but the volunteer will almost certainly spend time chatting and listening to the parents, playing with the children, maybe helping out a little with the family chores or going out with parents and children.

Each volunteer has the support of a supervisor at Home-Start, who is there to listen and guide the volunteer in their support of the family. The supervisor will help them find new ways of supporting the family, and will also help them identify when the support is no longer needed. We like to think we support our volunteers as well as they support their families.

When we talk to Home-Start volunteers, over and over they say the same thing to us – we get back more than we give.

Find out more about what it’s like to be a Home-Start family support volunteer, from the people who know.


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