Volunteers wanted for Honiton Home-Start team

Heather Penwarden. Picture Callum Lawton

Heather Penwarden. Picture Callum Lawton - Credit: Archant

Befriending service needs new recruits after expanding to the town

A befriending service which helps families struggling to meet the challenges of modern life is looking for volunteers after expanding into Honiton.

Home-Start Exeter and East Devon is a charity using a network of people to provide vital support for parents and their children.

It matches families with a parent volunteer to provide support and expert help as well as friendship on a regular basis in their home with no judgment, just compassionate confidential help.

New funding means the service can be provided in Honiton and the surrounding villages.

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Now Home-Start is looking for local volunteers to join its team.

Anyone able to give some time to the cause is invited to attend a new, free training course starting on Tuesday June 11 at Awliscombe village hall.

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Sophie Cook, one of the volunteer co-ordinators said: "We've just received more funding to branch out again by relaunching in Honiton.

"Our volunteers are parents who have all had parenting experience, plus training, and can support other families who may be struggling.

"There's a huge list of things that people struggle with - like having twins, being in an area they don't know, family break-downs, mental health and anything really that disrupts the normal functioning of a family.

"Everyone is just so busy nowadays, many people don't live near their families and even if they do, they may not see them as often as they would like and it means that they don't have anyone to off-load to.

"Even if families do go to parent and toddler groups, it can feel like they are the only ones struggling, when in actual fact most of the other people there probably feel the same! We just don't tend to say that to each other.

"So our volunteers go in and support the family one day a week for a couple of hours and work alongside them.

"We don't go in and tell a family what they need to be doing, we chat with them and discuss what areas they're struggling with and provide them with a volunteer who might be able to help.

"Home-Start is amazing. It's like having a friendly aunt popping in once a week who will play with the children so that you can catch-up with anything that needs doing or will help you take the children to the park, then, afterwards they'll sit down with them to have a cup of tea and see if they're alright.

"The volunteers really enjoy it too. They get a lot out of helping other people and seeing how much the families benefit."

Heather Penwarden, chairman of The League of Friends of Honiton Hospital, has welcomed the arrival of home-start, saying "we know that finding support for families in rural areas where transport links are poor is difficult.

The next volunteer preparation course will be running on Tuesday, June 11 at Awliscombe Village Hall from 9.30am to 2.30pm.

To find out more contact Home-Start on 01392 826299 office@homestartexeter.co.uk or visit the website for other ways to get involved www.homestartexeter.co.uk

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