Home Start Hertfordshire is a small charity with a vision to ensure every parent in Hertfordshire has the support they need to give their child the best start in life. We provide highly trained volunteer Family Mentors who provide 1:1 support for families in their own home. We also run six, referral only, family groups across the county.
We receive approximately six referrals a week from families who are struggling and our referrals this year have increased by 18% compared to the same period last year.
While we are currently unable to provide our usual face-to-face support due to COVID-19, we have adapted our model to provide an intensive package of support remotely. It has been essential for us to ensure continuity of support at a time when statutory agencies are struggling to operate and schools and nurseries have closed. Our contact enables us to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children who are potentially vulnerable or at risk.
This crisis has affected us all to varying degrees and in various ways, but many of the families we support were already at breaking point. Some parents we work with have relapsed into anxiety and depression. Many are struggling in overcrowded conditions or are finding it difficult to cope with children displaying challenging behaviour. Others living on low income with no transport are struggling to get to food and necessities. In the last two weeks we have been approached by families needing support due to having just had a baby and parents who have fled domestic abuse and been relocated in Hertfordshire.
We have been overwhelmed by the support we have already had from the local community and businesses. As a self-funded charity, we rely on your support and we could not do half of what we do without you.
We have launched an appealing for donations to make sure we can see this crisis through and be here for families ‘post COVID’. From what we are seeing already, we are anticipating that demand will increase as never before when the true impact of social isolation and economic hardship become known.