Home-Start Cotswolds

Helping parents give their children the best possible start in life

About volunteering

Home-Start volunteers visit families at home each week, supporting parents in situations as diverse as isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness, disability or who are just finding parenting a struggle.

They provide non-judgemental practical and emotional support and help build the family’s confidence and ability to cope.

Home-Start runs more services, and has more volunteers supporting more families, than any other family support charity in the UK.

All local Home-Start schemes, such as the Cotswolds one, are supported by Home-Start UK. It provides training for staff, volunteers and trustees, information and guidance on governance, legal and human resources issues and help with fundraising and communications.

Volunteer for us

We are always looking for interested people to volunteer their time in the Cotswolds scheme.

Volunteering opportunities are:

  • working directly with families as a Home-Visiting Volunteer
  • as a trustee on the management committee.

Home-Visiting Volunteer

At the heart of Home-Start is the belief that parents play the key role in giving their children the best start in life – and that other parents have the experience and understanding to support those families who need help.

If you are a parent or a grandparent, you know just how tough family life can be at times.

We are looking for people who have the time and commitment to support a family through a difficult period in their lives.

Our volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds and have a common interest in helping local families.

Volunteers support families by visiting them at home for 2-3 hours per week. They offer both emotional and practical support which helps parents cope with everyday situations.

All volunteers undertake a 40-hour course to prepare them for their new role. Volunteers find that they learn a lot about themselves during the course. Some even find it is a stepping stone to a new career.

Volunteers all receive ongoing support and supervision from coordinators. They have access to further training and social events throughout the year, and receive reimbursement for all out-of-pocket expenses.

If you are interested in joining us as a Home-Visiting Volunteer please complete and return a Volunteer Application Form

Download a Home-Visiting Volunteer Application Form

For additional information Download the Guide to Becoming a Volunteer

A quick guide to becoming a home-visiting volunteer

  • You must be a parent or have parenting experience.
  • As a Home-Start volunteer you will support a family by visiting them at home for up to three hours, once a week.
  • You should be able to commit at least six months of your time to Home-Start.
  • You should have a non-judgemental attitude and understand about the pressures of bringing up a family.
  • You will have to attend our free Volunteer Preparation Course with other new volunteers before meeting your first family.
  • Expenses are paid during training and while you support a family.
  • You must understand that your support for families is completely confidential.
  • You will have to undergo an enhanced check with DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
  • You will be supported by the Home-Start team during the time you are visiting families.

Trustees

We are keen to hear from people who would like to support our organisation by becoming a trustee.

The role is all about the governance of the charity, including:

  • Making the charity effective
  • Providing overall strategic direction
  • Maintaining sound management of funds

Trustees are expected to attend a board meeting every eight weeks, and to be an active part of a sub-group, which would involve further meetings.

In addition, there is an Annual General Meeting and various fundraising, volunteer and family events throughout the year.

It is an important role, carrying legal and financial responsibilities, which will require time and commitment. You will also be invited to local and regional training and events.

Interested? Please contact us
Phone Home-Start Cotswolds for an informal chat 01285 885391
email office@home-start-cotswolds.org.uk

Testimonials

Click here to watch a short video of the journeys of some families and volunteers.

Case Studies

Read Chrissie’s story

Volunteer: Chrissie

The first family I visited had four children, the eldest being seven. I also had four children with a seven year age gap so I was in my comfort zone. The mum was extremely able and competent as a mum so it was more a case of just that little bit of additional help, particularly adult company and helping a bit with the children.

My second family was totally different experience; a single young mum with two children under three. I thought I had got it sussed what being a single mum was, because my husband worked abroad a lot, and my own daughter is a single mum with two little children. I thought I knew what the different issues were – but I didn’t at all.

This particular mum hasn’t had a supportive upbringing in a family environment and I didn’t realise beforehand what a huge impact that has had on her ability to parent her children. She did not feel loved by her mother and she needs the love from her two little children, so the whole thing of setting boundaries becomes vastly complicated.

I have done a lot of talking with Janice, my co-ordinator because it is out of my comfort zone and I have no experience of this kind of family situation. I have visited and played with her children when she did not know how to play with them. It is in situations like these that we don’t realise how much we learn to parent from the way our own parents and grandparents are with us as children.

I would say to someone who was thinking of volunteering – well go for it! The preparation training is very thorough and equips you for all sorts of situations, and the co-ordinators are always there if we are not sure what to do next.

Read Lynn’s story

Recently Trained Volunteer: Lynn

I have become a volunteer as I was at a stage in my career and my life where I was looking to do something else. My child is 12 and he has just started senior school so he does not need me as much. I went back to university, finishing last June, and I thought it was about I time I really put something back into the community in which I live.

I had done a psychology degree and it had got me interested in child development. I started to have a look around and went into Cotswolds Volunteers in Cirencester and they went through a number of opportunities with me. I went through quite a few things before I found Home-Start. What attracted me was the opportunity to work with families with children under five, but also the training that was being offered seemed to be a structured, supported, way of getting to be a really useful volunteer, as opposed to presenting myself to an organisation and just hoping for the best, which I know has happened to some of my fellow students.

On the course I met my other fellow volunteers and it was just terrific. Talk about the most amazing bunch of people, a huge cross section of backgrounds and life experiences. It was one of the best run courses I have ever been on – and I have been on lots of courses with my background in human resources! It was well structured, very professionally produced and the material was excellent. Also it was tailored by the inclusion of lots of local experiences and case studies (obviously anonymous) and speakers from local services and organisations. It was a great course and if you did miss bits it was structured so you could easily pick it up and Katharine and Janice were absolutely terrific at delivering it as well.

We are all already skilled as mums and dads and also have skills in lots of different ways that we don’t even think about….. nevertheless we have all got experiences. My little boy was very premature so I have got that experience of having gone through special care and I had not really realised that this personal experience could make a difference when talking to a Home-Start family.

Read Trish’s story

Volunteer: Trish

For everything you put in you get even more out and that is why I love being a Home-Start volunteer. I cannot imagine why I would stop because it is just part of what I do now with my life.
The training course was brilliant. On paper, some of the things were quite scary and you think “how will I handle this or cope?” But actually it is just life, and every day we deal with problems and answers and issues. That’s why the families like Home-Start as an organisation – because we are not an agency looking for problems or trying to trip them up. We are there because they have agreed that they want our help, and we can be a friend and a supporter.

Three out of the four families I have supported have all had really sick infants or babies. Nearly losing a new-born baby is a massive experience and spending all those months in hospitable affects your relationship with your partner and any other children you might have. Their confidence to be parents was really knocked for six.

I am still in touch with all my families which is really nice. I met up with one mum for a coffee the other day and she said to me “you know Trish, when I first met you I felt that life was really on top of me – and now I feel on top of my life”. That was really lovely.

What I have learned is that we are all the same. Some of us are privileged to be in families who have the luck, the support, the finance, whatever it is to do all these things – and other families aren’t quite as lucky.

One dad had been brought up in care so he just really didn’t have a clue about family life, how to talk to his kids and appreciate simple things like when they came running in with a drawing they had done at nursery that they were really proud of.

All the children are so amazing. I get to go and play with them and have a lovely time which is really, really rewarding. It makes me realise that the first few years of a child’s life are so important and anything that we can do to help is fantastic.

I think we volunteers are like the icing on the cake because the co-ordinators and the agencies have done all the hard work and we come along at the end to take the glory! We are so lucky to do this and to get so much out of it.

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