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Home-Start Worldwide Global Conference 2017

Home-Start Worldwide Global Conference 2017, Tokyo-investing in children

Representatives from 20 Home-Start countries, guest speakers and our Japanese participants arrived in Tokyo for the Home-Start Worldwide Global Conference full of anticipation and excitement for the week that lay ahead. They were met with beautiful weather and a warm welcome from our Japanese hosts and Home-Start Worldwide trustees.

The Global Conference takes place every three years and is the most significant event for the Home-Start network. It is a place where Home-Start people around the world meet, exchange their experiences and learn from each other. The title chosen for this year’s Conference was “Investing in Children” where, acknowledging the importance of parents, particularly in the early years of a child’s life, our focus was on how we can support parents to ensure a brighter future for their children. The five key issues we discussed in depth were:

  • Supporting early childhood
  • Advocating for family support and raising our visibility
  • Working in partnerships to promote Home-Start
  • Volunteer competencies, training and training material
  • Raising funds
Home-Start Worldwide Global Conference 2017 Group Photo

The Conference was opened by Dr Yasuyuki Saigo, (Home-Start Japan Chair) at the United Nations University to a large audience which included coordinators and volunteers from 95 Home-Start Japan schemes. The winners of a photo competition showing Home-Start families and children were awarded their prizes, and a heart-warming exchange of information about their Home-Starts took place in small groups between the Japanese coordinators and volunteers and the representatives from a Home-Start Worldwide country (with the assistance of translators).

Our generous funders were acknowledged by Nobuko Hibari. The Key note address was by Joan van Niekerk, ISPCAN past President and HSW Trustee. Joan was interviewed by, Toshiyuki Shiomi, President of Shiraume Gakuen, Tokyo University, Professor Emeritus, about the importance of investing in children especially in early childhood, and preventing child abuse by supporting parents.

Elizabeth Young, Director of Research Strategic Development, Home-Start UK provided interesting statistics about the impact of Home-Start on families and volunteers. A round table discussion on the Home-Start experience worldwide was led by Dr Margaret Lynch, Deputy Chair of HSW, and Professor Emeritus of King’s College London.

The closing address was by Nobuko Hibari. A tea party followed where Dr Yasuyuki Saigo acknowledged the donors and volunteers. The Home-Start representatives were treated to supper at a traditional Japanese restaurant and a sightseeing bus tour of Tokyo.

A fully packed agenda followed the opening day where we explored the 5 key elements in workshops, presentations, group discussions, participatory sessions and open space meetings. The Home-Start Worldwide General Meeting took place on Friday 10 November. The final outcomes of the Conference will be known once the feedback from Chair sessions and the participants have been assessed however the overall feeling seems to be that the Conference was a great success and that having met some of our Japanese coordinators, volunteers and families enriched the experience immensely!

Home-Start Japan organised for the Home-Start representatives to visit local Tokyo prefecture schemes (City: Kiyose, Katsushika, Shinjuku) on Friday afternoon or for those who wanted to go further afield, to visit schemes in the Fukushima prefecture (City: Nihon-matsu, Kitaka, Shirakawa,), Saitama prefecture (City: Wako,) Ibaraki prefecture (City: Tsukuba,) Aichi prefecture (City: Toyohashi,) Oita prefecture (City: Bungo-ohno, Oita in Kyushu Island) Miyazaki prefecture (City: Miyakonojo,). Everyone who went on these trips reports to having the most amazing experiences of meeting families, volunteers and coordinators. Those who stayed with families in their homes will always remember the privilege of having experienced the generosity of Japanese hospitality and the unforgettable beauty of Japan.

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