It’s been 4 months since I became Chief Executive of Home-Start Horizons, and its been a bit of a whirlwind!
My first few weeks were about getting to know staff, volunteers, services, stakeholders and funding. I met some amazingly committed staff and volunteers. The families who receive our support are going through some incredible challenges: major housing issues that should never happen in 21st Century Britain, social isolation, mental health issues and needing child development support. All of these families seem to have been failed by statutory interventions or fallen through the gaps whilst still needing intensive support.
Meeting Home-Start Horizons volunteers – the life-blood of our work and are the difference that makes a difference to family’s lives – made me realise how Home-Start works where other services fail. We (our volunteers) are parents. Very highly skilled parents, who have been through the intensive and renowned training with Home-Start Horizons. This prepares them to support families in the most challenging of times, supplementing the skills they bring from their own parenting and their work. They are teachers, nurses, social care workers, GPs – a huge range of valuable skills. But most important of all, they do not judge, they do not sanction, they work on the positives and build family’s skills, confidence and resilience in order to benefit their children now and in the future.
I have been inspired meeting staff and leaders from local services and national Home-Starts who are moving with the times and developing traded services, new funding streams and improved support to families – thank you to Sarah from HOST, Bev from Wirral, Tracey from Lincs and Rob from HSUK – how you have faced the challenges that all Home-Starts face gives me hope (and ideas) for the future of Home-Start Horizons.
Now we are training staff and volunteers in new areas, including a bespoke Behaviour Management package to support parents experiencing behaviour issues with their children. This came about as part of our pilot work seeking to work with Schools, based on the Home-Start Horizons model of support for 0-5 year old children. We will work with school age children, improving attendance and behaviour, supporting the critical work of schools. We are rolling out Solution Focussed Practice (SFP) for staff and volunteers supplementing our model of support. SFP is an established and credible model for supporting vulnerable families and children facing complex issues, enabling them to focus on the positive and take an incremental approach to change. Such valuable training not only benefits families, but volunteers in developing their own life skills, employability and confidence.
Things don’t stand still at Home-Start Horizons; we are currently working with another Home-Start in the County to consider closer working to expand our reach, achieve economies of scale and share best practice for the benefit of families in the County. As if this wasn’t enough, we are moving offices from our base in Leicester to our new hub location based in Braunstone. This will reduce back office costs, increase our flexibility and embrace IT opportunities to enable us to deliver more cost-effective and effective services to families across the County.
Things remain challenging in terms of funding, but we are working on achieving Lottery funding for an innovative development to the traditional Home-Start support. We are developing our peri-natal mental health support (an ever increasing need, with a huge increase in referrals from Health Visitors) and Schools work. We have worked closely with Home-Start UK, and appreciate their support in progressing our partnership work across the County.
So what can you do for Home-Start Horizons I hear you ask? Well we always need volunteer parents with an interest in, and passion for making a difference in children’s lives. You will receive robust and respected training, staff support, and allocations of families in your local or chosen area.
Do you have other skills that Home-Start Horizons could utilise? Can you fundraise? Do you have an aptitude for social media marketing? Any skills you have that could support the charity would be much appreciated.
Please keep an eye on the website for further developments.
Home-Start Horizons CEO