Charity Focus: Home-Start Norfolk supports families through their toughest times

Home-Start Norfolk charity focus edp

Home-Start Norfolk provides support to families through their toughest times, ensuring they have the support they need to give their children the best start in life. - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

As part of our new drive to support local charities, each week we are highlighting the vital work they do and the difference they make to the lives of people across the local community.

Home-Start Norfolk works to support families and ensure that children have the best start in life.

About Us

Parenting is tough, but when we are faced with additional challenges such as financial hardship, isolation, poor mental health or disability, it gets even tougher. Home-Start Norfolk works with families through their toughest times, ensuring they have the support they need to give their children the best start in life. Home-Start’s ethos is to empower and enable, allowing families to develop self-resilience and confidence in their ability to cope with challenging situations and integrate more within their own communities. 

We know that our experiences in the first five years are fundamental to the way in which we grow up, understand and engage with our world. Our brains are growing faster than they will at any other stage of our lives as we absorb the world around us, quite literally wiring the connections that will shape our behaviours and influence our life chances. A supportive and nurturing environment through the first five years is crucial and for many reasons this is not always easy. 

Home-Start Norfolk Evie and Rosie Easter eggs ANON Wymondham and Neilsons Brandbank Norwich

Sisters, Evie, six years old and Rosie, two years old, with their Easter Eggs donated from ANON Wymondham and Neilsons Brandbank Norwich - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

Our movement was founded on parents supporting parents, volunteers from the same communities who share their parenting experience with families who trust them; who invite them into their homes and ask for support. This is what makes what we do unique, supporting approximately 250 families with a volunteer per year across Norfolk.  Our wonderful Home-Start volunteers bring a broad spectrum of diverse lived experience to provide community centred, accessible, non-judgmental support, walking beside them through their challenges.

Home-Start Norfolk Sarah Michelle Family Service Coordinators

Home-Start Norfolk's Family Service Coordinators Sarah and Michelle, at RAF Marham Family Day Event. - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

We employ family services co-ordinators (FSC’s) who provide professional supervision for our volunteers, matching their skills and experience with referred families. Before ‘matching’ a volunteer FSC’s will work with the family to identify their specific support and learning requirements, empowering each of them to identify milestones and recognise their progress. Every volunteer is taken through a comprehensive training and induction programme, helping them to bring their experience to families with confidence, providing the assurance of a safe and supportive environment for their own learning and development.

Most Read

We currently have a vacancy on our trustee board for a volunteer with human resources experience to support the ongoing development of our staff and volunteer workforce.

Home-Start Norfolk info graphic

Information from Home-Start Norfolk - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

Impact of Covid-19 and where we go in 2022 

‘We may all be in the same sea, but we are not in the same boat’. This phrase resonated strongly with our  team at Home-Start Norfolk throughout the pandemic. The waves of the pandemic itself, the restrictions placed through the lockdowns and the uncertainty for many regarding jobs, lack of access to school or nursery provision brought so many new anxieties in addition to those already experienced by many new parents. A report jointly published by Home-Start UK in November 2021 entitled ‘No one wants to see my baby’ highlighted the issues facing many UK parents. Difficulties included access to essential services to help them through pregnancy and beyond, with problems including accessing face to face medical care, reduced access to health visitors and a lack of community parent and baby groups.

Lockdown restrictions meant that we could not visit families face to face so our staff and volunteers shifted their support model overnight, using telephone and online communication in whatever way they could to remain present for Norfolk families. We took parcels of baby food, nappies and other essential items to families that we were working with, we supported families to access communications equipment and provided planters and gardening equipment for families who had little or no outdoor space.

Home-Start Norfolk Dexter plants

Four year old Dexter watering plants - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

Recognition for the work of our volunteers as part of the John Lewis Christmas advertising campaign was a welcome boost, as has been the direct funding, food and children’s clothing that the partnership has provided since to help Norfolk families.

Inshirah John Lewis Home-Start Norfolk

One year old Inshirah with her Christmas gifts donated from John Lewis. - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

Home-Start Norfolk Abel Ezra visiting Santa John Lewis

Three year old Abel and five year old Ezra visiting Santa and his Elf at John Lewis in Norwich - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

During the lockdown periods referrals dropped as a result of families not accessing services in the usual way. Since April 2021 however, referrals have risen steadily to a point where we now have a substantial waiting list of families who would benefit from a volunteer match. Our ability to generate funds was heavily restricted during lockdown and we are utilising reserves in order to maintain our current level of service. 

How you can get involved:

Fundraising for Home-Start Norfolk is a great way to connect with our charity and help us to raise awareness about the support we provide all over Norfolk. This year we have some fun and challenging events to help you raise money for our work; 

  • BOUNCE into a fun family day out for the Inflatable 5k at the Norfolk Showground on the 7th May, where you can tackle 32 inflatable giants.
  • CYCLE at Norwich 100 the beautiful classic cycling event on the 29th May.
  • RUN with us at Run Norwich 2022 the best 10k in the UK! Passing some of Norfolk’s most iconic sights.
  • JUMP for our Charity Skydive Day at Beccles Airfield on the 14th August and get the adrenaline rush of a lifetime!
  • For more information about these events and to see what else we have going on, please visit our website at
Home-Start Norfolk sky diving

Sky diving to raise money for Home-Start Norfolk - Credit: Home-Start Norfolk

Case Study

Mum of four, Abbie, was referred to Home-Start Norfolk after having twins, one of whom has a long-term health condition. Abbie was feeling overwhelmed trying to care for her children and manage her home, and there were concerns for her mental health. Home-Start matched Abbie with volunteer Sarah. Sarah’s weekly visits were a lifeline for Abbie, she provided hands-on help and support in the home, as well as giving Abbie emotional support, empowering her to recognise her ability as a Mum. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the visits had to stop. Abbie had a great deal of stress to deal with in lockdown with her twins being admitted into hospital, her husband losing his job causing financial difficulties. Home-Start Norfolk provided food packages, resourced bags of clothes for the children to reduce some of the stress. Sarah then continued to offer lots of emotional support for Abbie remotely, calling and texting every week and providing Abbie with a listening, understanding ear. 

‘Sarah wasn’t just great with the kids, she made me feel at ease and would always tell me that I am doing a good job. It was nice to have a chat with someone who understood that it’s not easy. After the phone calls I felt energised and somehow lighter’.

Home-Start Norfolk's registered charity number is 1106362 and more information can be found on their website.