The Charity’s aim is to give children the best possible start in life by helping to create stronger, happier, more independent families, reassuring parents that their problems are not unusual or unique and working with them to find solutions to their difficulties. Volunteers, who are carefully trained and supervised and subject to CRB checks, are matched with families, visiting them weekly in their homes to provide support, friendship and practical assistance, encouraging the parents’ strength and emotional wellbeing for the ultimate benefit of their children. They also spend valuable time with children, listening, talking, reading books and playing, encouraging parents to be involved in these activities.
Many families referred to Home-Start Bristol have complex, multiple needs:
they may be disadvantaged, vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’; more than half have needs relating to both isolation and low self esteem and are failing to access support systems within the community. There may also be domestic abuse, family breakdown, mental or physical illness, disability, poverty, multiple births or multiple children under 5. Other factors such as being a single parent or belonging to a minority ethnic group can increase the level of need and inability to access appropriate services.