Lisa Holmes is our friendly Marketing & Potters Friends Foundation Executive and, as well as working full-time at Potters, volunteers for charity Home Start Norfolk. We caught up with Lisa to find out about the work she is doing with them and why she decided to become a volunteer…
Why did you decide to get involved with Home Start?
After hearing about the valuable work they do when they won an award category Potters Friends Foundation sponsored for Great Community Contribution at the Spirit of Enterprise Awards, I knew I wanted to get involved as it is such a nice charity helping families in the community. My own girls are grown-up now, so it felt like the right time to do something and give something back.
What is Home Start?
Home Start is dedicated to helping children and changing lives, offering support and practical help to parents with young children across Norfolk. It offers a unique service, recruiting and training volunteers, who are usually parents themselves, to visit families at home who have at least one child under five to offer support with various issues, including school readiness, mental health, social and rural isolation, and healthy eating. They work alongside parents, in their own homes, to help them cope with the stresses and strains of life and make sure they have the skills, confidence and strength they need to nurture their children. The first five years of a child’s life, between birth and starting school, are vital for their development.
Can you tell us about what you do to support them?
They ask you to volunteer two to three hours of your time a week to support a family. You have a family for six months who you support in whatever way they need, whether it is emotional support, helping with things like budgeting or physically helping with nappy changes to allow the parents to just take a breath.
What was the process like before you could work with a family?
Obviously there is an initial application, interview and various checks are done. When I was selected for a place I had eight weeks of training, one day a week, which included mental health and safeguarding. I learnt so much from the training, especially on psychology. We each have a co-ordinator who observes the training and arranges a meeting to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and what families you might be able to support, requirements and how far you are willing to travel. Within a month of finishing my training I was paired with a family. I meet up with Jo, my co-ordinator, once a month to see how I am getting on.
How rewarding has it been so far with your family?
It is so rewarding to watch them learn and gain confidence, and see a change in them as they feel happier and more in control. Also to have them say that they look forward to my visits is really lovely.
What would you say to people who are thinking about becoming a volunteer?
Do it. Go along and see if it is right for you and find out more about the charity, as there is no pressure if you decide you can’t support. If you can give up a few hours a week it is such a worthwhile thing to do.