News & Events

happy baby with book

The benefits of having a Home Link Volunteer

28.02.2020 - 11:05

When our son was born three and half months prematurely, we knew that when we finally got him home, we would have challenges to face that most parents wouldn’t.  Our biggest challenge was that our son needed 24hr oxygen which meant he had to be connected to an oxygen machine with a nasal cannula taped to his face.  Since we needed to keep a very close eye on him to make sure he didn’t pull out that nasal cannula, which was at the time his lifeline, we found it very difficult to do simple chores and cook meals as we couldn’t leave him alone for long, even when he was asleep. 

Our Health Visitor told us about Home Link Family Support and how they can help families like us, by matching us with a volunteer to give us some support.  After a referral, we quickly met one of the co-ordinators.  We discussed how a Home Link volunteer could help us and for our family, it was having a volunteer who could come and sit with our son in our home and look after him for a couple of hours once a week to let me (or my husband when I returned to work) get some work done around the house and cook healthy meals. 

Within a couple of weeks Home Link had found someone they thought would be a match and after meeting her for the first time, we felt very comfortable.  Those two hours every week meant the world to me as a new mum with a baby on oxygen support.  I knew my son was safe and being looked after which gave me the confidence and time to cook healthy food for us and get some of those dreaded chores, like the laundry, done.  We had a great relationship with our volunteer and as he got older we could see our son enjoyed his weekly visits - he began to recognise our volunteer and would get excited when she would arrive. 

We were lucky enough to have our volunteer for nearly 9 months and while the main benefit was to give me time to cook meals and clean, the added benefit was the development our son had from the interaction he had with our volunteer as she sang to him, played games with him and read him books.  That’s also the reason we started going to the Stay & Play group set up by Home Link. It was another option for bringing development opportunities to our son but also a place where we could meet other parents, some of whom are also Home Link families and who also faced additional challenges with their new families. 

We would highly recommend Home Link Family Support and the service they provide, it made such a difference to us at a time when we really needed it and we are very grateful for that. 



Sharing Books and Reading together

31.01.2020 - 14:40

Children are never too young to start sharing books and reading together …

The two little ones in the photo were snapped engrossed in sharing a book together at Home Link Family Support’s Midlothian Stay & Play Group (Thursdays, 10.00-11.00am at Newbattle Community Centre). We were all fascinated to observe the two engaged in the book and interacting with each other for a sustained period. Note the position of the book! Our weekly Stay & Play Sessions always include story & song, along with lots of opportunity for play.

There are many reasons why it is important to share books and read together with babies and young children:

  • Sharing books, talking about the pictures and cuddling up close together will help build a strong and loving relationship between parent and child; babies and young children love the sound of their parents’ voices.
  • Sharing books, reading together, talking and listening develops the child’s social, environmental and mathematical awareness, numeracy and language skills. It is a good way of encouraging two-way communication, supporting the child to develop an awareness of the world around them, learn new words and increase their vocabulary. 
  • Sharing books, reading together, talking and listening can help children learn how to understand and express their own thoughts and emotions.
  • Sharing books and reading together helps develop an awareness that pictures, symbols and the written word have meaning. Children learn how to handle books e.g. to start at the front, turn pages in order and work through the book looking at the pictures & reading from left to right.
  • Sharing books and reading together, will support your child as they continue to grow, develop and learn.

Remember, it is never too early to begin sharing books and reading together!

Useful websites: The Book Trust ; Scottish Book Trust

Super Gran!

27.01.2020 - 14:19

A mother of 2 boys speaks about the experience of having a volunteer ’Super Gran’ to visit once a week:

“Any parent or carer will know that having a child definitely changes your life and routine many wonderful ways.  Having a new addition to your family can require juggling lots of tasks and having an extra pair of hands can make such a huge difference.  Those extra pair of hands for me came from Home Link Family Support – we were paired with a wonderful volunteer who became a huge lifeline. 

Our volunteer or as we used to call her ‘Super Gran’ or ‘Grandma Maria’ would come in to help me with my two children for a couple of hours every week. 

No task was ever too big – I can’t actually ever remember her saying ‘no’ to anything.  The key thing was that I trusted her – within the year we developed a good relationship and I got to see that she truly cared. We spoke about lots of things from food to music, travel and family.

She worked very closely with my little boy who has additional support needs.  She played games with him; taught him how to use toys; helped with his feeding and much more.  At times she would help watch both my children (who were 4 years and under 1 year) while I did some chores around the house.  Knowing I had those 2 hours every week to quickly get a few things done was such a massive help.  Every Tuesday the boys would wait for her to arrive and greet her by the door.  She was so mild mannered, friendly and kind - she would sing to them and they loved seeing her.  She almost became part of our family.

Having a child with additional needs has extra challenges – but this was never a challenge for Maria.  She saw the child before the disability.  She would help me to get to appointments or play with the boys into the garden.

What blew my mind was the fact she was doing this for free.  I was always taught that nothing in life comes for free. However, Home Link Family Support gave this service to my family for free.  Home Link harnessed their skills as a charity organisation to bring together volunteers and developed these wonderful individuals’ skills to become volunteers to support families, such as mine.  Words can’t express how grateful I am. 

I hope that Home Link Family Support can continue to do their amazing work – supporting children and their families.

Thank you J”