FAQs - Home Start FAQ

Any adult who wants to help families in Portsmouth can apply to us to be a volunteer. We will ask them to complete an application form, they will be interviewed and complete a course of preparation. If they are thought to meet our requirements at the end of this course and they have two satisfactory references and an enhanced DBS check, they will be invited to join our team.

Our volunteers have usually had parenting experience themselves. Some, however, are not parents but are able to demonstrate a good understanding of what parenting involves.

It depends on the plan that is drawn up with the co-ordinator. It can be a whole variety of different things from going through bills and organising finances to help attending appointments to help with the weekly shop to having a coffee and a chat, or a combination of all of these things. It will all be based around what the family are telling us that they need, and because things can change from time to time, the support plan is reviewed regularly. This makes sure that the family are definitely getting what they need, not what we think they need.

Absolutely. Home-Start Portsmouth will work with anybody that has lone or joint parenting responsibility.

The average family will receive support for around a year. It can be much less and, in exceptional circumstances, it can be more. We will always discuss the best time to finish support with the family and with the volunteer and never leave suddenly. When the youngest child in the family goes to school, we have to stop supporting that family.

Volunteers are not cleaners, but if keeping on top of the housework is what's difficult for you, they may support you in putting together some routines to make it easier and 'muck in' while they're round sometimes as a friend would. But they would not be expected to carry out a family's household chores while they are doing something completely different. 

Yes. This would be a good use of volunteer time as getting to the shops with a little one on your own can be very challenging.

We find out about families needing a little extra help from all sorts of sources and we will only ever start working with a family if that's what they would like; nobody has to have our support. Most referrers are health visitors as they see all families when babies are young but we accept referrals from anybody at all and lots of the families that we support have referred themselves by just calling up and asking for help.

Not necessarily. It depends on the order that we received the referrals. We don't prioritise according to the number of children or any other factor that we read about on the referral form. We allocate volunteers on a 'first come - first served' basis as we feel this is the only fair way to do things.

All volunteers must meet the requirements of our person specification. They are interviewed before being invited to attend a 9 day (over 10 weeks) preparation course and will undergo a final interview before a decision is made by the Operations Manager about their suitability for placement with a Home-Start family. We also take up two references and an enhanced DBS check. No volunteer will meet a family through us until this entire process is complete.

Each volunter will be matched to just one family and go to see that same family each week. In this way they develop a special strusting realtionship.

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