Home-Start Norwich needs more volunteers to give support to fellow mums and dads

An organisation that gives support to families with young children is appealing for more parents to volunteer to help fellow mums and dads.

Home-Start Norwich, based in St Benedict's View, Grapes Hill, is a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child under five.

It has a network of parent volunteers who offer friendship and support to families and help mothers and fathers deal with the challenges of parenthood.

Sharon Hearsum, Home-Start Norwich's senior coordinator, said there were many reasons families were helped by Home-Start - some were new to the area or felt isolated because they had no other family members nearby, while others may have suffered a bereavement, or have children with additional needs or behaviour problems.

At the moment Home-Start Norwich currently works with 56 families but has only 42 volunteers. 'We are always in need of more volunteers,' Mrs Hearsum said.

'Volunteers are paired with a family who they visit once a week for a couple of hours. Lots of the families we support often feel quite isolated, and the parent volunteer can often help by just chatting to them, going for a walk with them, or going on a trip to the park.'

She said the role of Home-Start Norwich was becoming increasingly vital in the current climate as other services and resources are cut.

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Volunteers need to be parents themselves and usually be able to give a year's commitment, but other than that there are no other prerequisites.

'The volunteers need to have their own children so they can relate to what a tough job it is to raise children – unless you are a parent yourself it can be difficult to understand,' Mrs Hearsum said.

People who apply to be a parent volunteer have a short informal interview, and new volunteers take part in a weekly training session that runs over 11 weeks.

The next course starts on February 21 at the Home-Start Norwich office and is from 10am until 1pm every Tuesday.

Home-Start Norwich is also in need of people to join its board of trustees.

Anybody interested in applying to be a parent volunteer or a trustee of Home-Start Norwich should call 01603 616400 or email admin@homestartnorwich.org

For more about Home-Start visit www.home-start.org.uk

Are you involved in a new community project? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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