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Annual Report: Butser Home Start 2015

During the year we supported 76 families and 171 children, a slight increase from the previous year demonstrating the continued demand for our services. Families are referred for many reasons but a common issue throughout is mental health. One in two of every family supported suffers from mental health issues ranging from depression, anxiety and post-natal depression to post traumatic stress disorder. In the current climate with so many services being cut and reduced, Home-Start is unique in providing consistent, long term support in the home allowing a relationship of trust to build up and change to be effected. Last year ten children came off the Child Protection Register under Home-Start’s watch. More families from diverse cultures are being referred, reflecting the changing local population. Many have no friends or family and are often very isolated. Our volunteers are vital in helping them to integrate into their community.

Despite our work being seen as integral to joined up support for families with young children by professionals across the board, including Health, Children’s Services, Children’s Centres, Schools and Adult Mental Health, we no longer receive any statutory funding. This means that every penny raised is through fundraising, donations and funding applications. The climate is getting tougher and we were disappointed to be turned down by Children in Need due to oversubscription.

This funding had previously supported our two Family Groups, in Petersfield and Horndean. There is growing demand for a third Family Group in Clanfield where recent housing developments have increased the need for provision for young families. The challenge now is to find other sources of funding in order to carry on providing the Family Groups which offer a valuable, caring and supportive environment.

Although funding is a challenge we continue to strike gold with our volunteers and trustees. This year we ran two Prep Courses and are constantly amazed at the wonderful people who are so willing to offer help to other families going through a critical time. With the launch of a new web site our profile continues to grow and our vision is to develop an Ambassador programme recruiting volunteers to promote our work in all the areas of East Hampshire that we cover. This will enable us to offer more families support, recruit more volunteers and raise more funds to ensure that we can carry on.

All who witness and experience the work of Home-Start become convinced of the necessary and vital role we play. By increasing awareness we trust we will be able to carry on enriching lives in the local community.

Nicola Winter

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