Who Can be A Home-Visiting Volunteer
Home-Start welcomes volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Volunteers do not need specific qualifications; it is their life experiences, attitudes and interpersonal skills that matter.
Volunteers do need to be a parent or have parenting experience and will need the ability to:
• listen with understanding
• maintain confidentiality
• be committed to the scheme and to the families they visit.
All volunteers are carefully recruited and selected, and attend an initial course of preparation before being matched with one, two, or occasionally, several families.
Parents who have been visited may also become volunteers.
The Role of the Home-Start Volunteer
To help give children the best possible start in life, Home-Start supports parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationship with their children and widen their links with the local community. Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in the local community.
Visiting families at home is basic to the Home-Start approach. Volunteers undertake the core work of the Home-Start scheme in their support for families, visiting them regularly in their own homes. Volunteers offer a realistic, flexible response and a caring attitude rather than a clearly defined method of working.
By sharing their time and friendship volunteers offer families opportunities to develop new relationships, fresh ideas, and enhanced skills and capabilities.
Because of this, families can develop a renewed interest in their children and an improved response to their needs. They gain the confidence to take advantage of other resources in the community.
The work of the volunteer requires a high level of commitment and reliability and will be supported by the Home-Start organiser(s)/co-ordinator(s).
The skills and experience of the volunteers are carefully matched to the needs of the families.
When matching volunteers with families, a number of practical, rational and intuitive factors are taken into account:
• the family’s needs
• the commitment required
• the volunteer’s motivation
• the volunteer’s aptitudes, skills and experience
• the ability of the volunteer to be open and accepting of the situation
• issues of class, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability
• practical considerations: geography, transport and time
• mutual interests or life experiences.
The organiser/co-ordinator should give the volunteer a brief description of the family and their needs before agreeing together that the volunteer will be matched with the family.
In preparation for the introductory visit the organiser/co-ordinator shares with the volunteer all appropriate information about the family.
Volunteers are always accompanied by the organiser/co-ordinator on the first visit to:
• introduce them to the family
• assess whether the skills and attitudes of the volunteer correspond to the needs of the family
• develop an initial focus for visiting.
Where it is known that a family is experiencing specific difficulties, anxieties or fears, the Home-Start organiser/co-ordinator seeks to introduce a volunteer who is sensitive to those difficulties and aware of the implications both immediately and in the future.
It has been found helpful to encourage volunteers to support two families at any one time if they have the relevant time availability. Sometimes it may be appropriate to introduce a volunteer to a second family when there are indications that the first is reducing their levels of need for support.
There are several advantages in encouraging volunteers to support two families at any one time:
• it discourages over commitment or over involvement with one family
• the scheme is able to support more families
• it encourages longer term commitment from volunteers to stay with Home-Start i.e. they are still involved with Home-Start when their support of one family comes to an end
• it helps maintain volunteer morale and commitment when one family is proving more challenging to support if their other family has simpler or short term needs.
Person Specification for a Home-Start Volunteer
A Home-Start Volunteer should:
• Be a parent or have parenting experience
• Have a positive attitude to working with people of any gender, family status or sexual identity, or who are from any ethnic, culture or religion, or who may have a disability
• Demonstrate a sensitive and caring attitude towards others
• Have a non judgemental attitude
• Be clear about confidentiality and when a confidence remains so, but be able to decide when disclosure of a confidence is essential to the well-being of a child
• Be reliable and understand the importance of reliability to the family
• Have good communication skills including an ability to listen
• Understand the need for support
• Have time and enthusiasm for Home-Start
• Be able to work as a member of a team
• Be prepared to keep records as requested by the scheme
Contents of Home-Start Preparation Course
• Welcome to the course
• Volunteering for Home-Start
• Role of Home-Start Volunteer
• Home visiting
• Being a Home-Start Volunteer
• Key Elements for Home-Start volunteers
• Values and Attitudes
• Family life and supporting parents
• Parents and supporting parents
• Child Protection/Safeguarding children
For more information about becoming a volunteer why not get in touch with us and we can help you fully understand what a rewarding activity being a Home-Start Mansfield volunteer can be.
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