On Tues 29 Nov we held a launch for our new services to support families in Edinburgh. With inspiring addresses from Sarah Burns, SE Edinburgh Locality, Gordon McLean Acting GIRFEC Lead Officer for City of Edinburgh Council, and children's author Vivian French.
We were joined by associated organisations supporting children and families: Bookbug, Peeple, Advice Shop, Children 1st, Action for Sick Children, Home Start, Sleep Scotland, Teens +, Befriending Networks, Circle, One Parent Families, Multicultural Family Base,
An HLFS press release on the day read:
Vital Service for Families to Reach across Edinburgh after Funding Boost
A charity that provides vital help to support struggling families with young children has been given a massive funding boost that will allow it offer services across the whole of Edinburgh for the first time.
Home Link Family Support – which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year – has received £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund which will fund the expansion of its early years (antenatal) home visiting service for the five years.
The grant – the biggest in the organisations history - will also fund the recruitment of two Early Years Coordinators to enhance the Family Support Service in Edinburgh, which helps parents from all social backgrounds who may have various problems such as health, depression or financial issues.
The charity, which covers both Edinburgh and Midlothian, has now launched a drive to attract more volunteers to support its growing workload – offering the opportunity of a rewarding experience which brings high levels of personal benefits.
Manager Paula Swanston said she feels truly privileged to have staff and volunteers who put in endless commitment and belief into what they are trying to achieve.
She said: “We have over30 years of success delivering family support in the south of the city. But with the Big Lottery funding we will now have the capacity to reach and support more children and their families; helping tackle issues of isolation and children’s wellbeing though our early intervention work. “
“This grant is a massive show of confidence in the great work we are doing and have been doing – much of it largely unknown.
“The majority of our service is delivered by a dedicated, highly trained team of volunteers who give up their own time to visit the families at home.”
“Volunteers are able to build a trusting relationship with families giving them more confidence to access services and opportunities that social barriers prevent them benefitting from.
“We are effective because families let us in where some professionals can struggle. Families know that volunteers are there because they want to be, not because they are paid to be. We are filling the gaps of key partners who have large caseloads and little time to do all the early intervention that is needed– so we can prevent situations escalating into crises.”
Paula added: “Our volunteers tell us that their experience with Home Link Family Support is really rewarding. For some, it is the opportunity to get upskilled for future careers and for those who have retired; it’s a chance to continue to use valuable skills that they have such as ex midwives, nurses and social workers.
“They receive training and supervision that is appropriate to enable them to be competent to meet family need, ensuring they feel properly supported and able to deliver excellent service to families.”
As well as the Family Support Service and Antenatal) Support Service, Home Link Family Support operates a Midlothian Young Parents Support Service and a unique Systemic Family Counselling Service in Midlothian.
Any family with a child under five who is experiencing difficulties can be eligible for a family support volunteer – which often leads to them reporting that they are happier and more able to cope with their children.
Paula added: “We aim to support parents to fully engage with the positive emotional development of their children, to help nurture healthy parent-child relationships, and to encourage parents to fully understand and participate in their child’s early learning.
“Through early intervention we seek to support families to bring up their children so that they can become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.”
In its last year, Home Link Family Support has provided more than 8000 home visits and 40,000 volunteer hours – equivalent to the economic value of £288,500.
One mother, who was struggling with post-natal depression, commented: “You have so much guilt when you have post-natal depression. She (volunteer) just took so much of that pressure away.
I just appreciated having a kind and friendly person who was genuinely interested in me, my life and my children. She made me realise that I am not alone and that there are wonderful people in the world who are willing to give up their spare time to spend with complete strangers and help them out when they are really struggling.
As a family we’re nearly there now. I feel so much better in myself. I feel so much stronger and that I can do it now.”
Up to 50 new volunteers are being sought any people interested should click here or call 0131 661 0890.