Independent report praises Home-Start Bristol

September 01 2020

During lockdown, HSB sourced a £1k grant from the John Lewis Covid-19 crisis fund to support families struggling with food poverty. Staff and volunteers delivered fresh food and plant boxes to families and the charity hopes to continue this healthy eating initiative into the future.

During lockdown, HSB sourced a £1k grant from the John Lewis Covid-19 crisis fund to support families struggling with food poverty. Staff and volunteers delivered fresh food and plant boxes to families and the charity hopes to continue this healthy eating initiative into the future.

An external evaluation carried out by the Foundation for Social Improvement has heaped praise on Home-Start Bristol adding that the charity: ‘helps families overcome obstacles and build happier lives.’
The report goes on: ‘the most significant change seen is in parents feeling less isolated and accessing more services. Alongside this, families feel better able to cope with everyday issues and concerns.’
Andrea Priest, manager of Home-Start Bristol, explained: “We aim to help parents in disadvantaged families to give their children the best possible start in life, providing them with support from trained parent volunteers and expert staff during the crucial early years of children’s lives. We are delighted with the findings of this report on our work between April 2019 and March 2020.”
Home-Start Bristol (HSB) is a registered charity that supports struggling families with at least one child under five living in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Based at Greenway Business Centre in Southmead, HSB supports families through carefully matched weekly visits from trained volunteers and/or family support staff.
Most families accessing the service are referred by other agencies; many are struggling with low levels of mental health and self-esteem, being unable to cope with day-to-day running of the home and struggling to manage their children’s behaviour and routines. Many are also very isolated and are not accessing other services.
During the period of the evaluation, parents saw their mental health and well-being improve: 80% of parents had increased self-esteem and 79% found they were coping better with their mental health; 88% of parents said that they felt better able to manage everyday issues and concerns. Most parents became more involved with their children’s development, which is evidenced to have long-lasting impacts on children’s life chances and attainment.
Martha, a mum of three who was supported by HSB said: “I don’t know where I’d be without Home-Start. I’m sad the support is coming to an end because they’ve been such a crucial part of my life, but I know I will be alright because they’ve given me the strength and confidence to know that I will cope.”
Another parent added: “I needed someone to talk to who wouldn’t be there to judge me and tell me what to do. My volunteer was great and would come and offer advice, show me how to do things, listen to me and also interact with my child, which meant a lot.”
Home-Start Bristol’s work also has a positive impact on the volunteers who undertake the HSB training and progress to support families. Volunteers speak very highly of the experience; they gain new skills, broaden their perspectives and enjoy meeting new people. Many go on to use their skills to forge new careers, going into further education and working in more formal settings.
The report concludes: ‘Home-Start Bristol is a vital part of the local infrastructure of support for families in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Partner organisations interviewed as part of the evaluation clearly felt that Home-Start Bristol plays a unique role in the community and meets needs that other services cannot.
The level of need in families is set to increase in the coming months and years as the country recovers from the Covid19 pandemic; therefore, services like those of Home-Start Bristol will be crucial to supporting families in both the immediate and long-term future.’
Home-Start Bristol is actively recruiting volunteers. The next volunteer preparation course starts in a few weeks’ time on 23 September and will be run online, making it accessible to participants from across Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Interested? Visit the HSB website at: www.homestartbristol.org.uk   
Home-Start Bristol is also looking for additional trustees to join its Trustee Board – if you’d like to find out more please contact Chris Williamson: chrisw@homestartbristol.org.uk  and/or go to the HSB website: www.homestartbristol.org.uk