These volunteers must have parenting experience and, before they are matched with a family, go through a training programme and have an enhanced criminal records check.
The trustees, who manage Home-Start Bristol, are also volunteers. They receive special preparation for their role within the charity too.
All areas of volunteering are very rewarding…but don’t take our word for it – read the personal experiences of some of our home-visiting volunteers and of our families we support.
Volunteers often report a sense of satisfaction gained from being able to make a different to people’s lives.
“Becoming a volunteer exceeded my expectations. The course was informative and gave me a hunger to learn more…..I enjoyed the feeling of being useful.
It has contributed to me getting a job – I have become a child minder and am completing my level 3 diploma – working with children.
Without HS I would never have had the confidence to restart my education. I am not sure what route I will take yet, maybe working in a school or social care. HS was the starting point for my new beginning!”
How did you find out about Home-Start Bristol (HSB)?
I’d been volunteering at the local Children’s Centre and they put me onto HSB as I was interested in going into social work.
How did you find the training?
I loved the training! I couldn’t wait to go every week. It was interesting. You learn a lot about yourself as well as everything else. Opens your eyes to things I hadn’t thought of. And – it can be a confidence boost. I felt that all I’d ever done was bring up my four children.
How did you find doing the accreditation?
Well, I did it!
I really wanted to do it and it gave me confidence that I could study. I have bad spelling and I didn’t feel confident in my writing. The course proved I could do it. When I got home after the session, I just did the homework. I got support during the course if I needed it. I was getting frustrated with one question and Jill (Coordinator/ Lead Tutor Prep Course) came out to my home and talked me through it, which really helped.
And in the end, I got my certificate, which made me feel better about myself.
How did you find visiting a family?
I enjoy meeting a new family, but you’re always a bit nervous.
I’ve had three families, all have had babies under one year old. I supported a mum with twins. It was a real eye opener. She couldn’t get pushchairs in and out of shops, and there were so many things I would never have thought of as being difficult to do. Like going to baby weigh ins, shops, doctors.
The first family I visited gave me a big thank you badge, which I keep in my keepsake box. The twins gave me a big bunch of flowers with a personalised key ring, saying ‘Tan Tan’ (their name for me). I was also embarrassed, thinking they shouldn’t have done that. I didn’t expect it, but it was very nice and made me feel appreciated. It is satisfying and nice to know I’m doing something that helps.
What are you doing now?
I am still volunteering but now I am in college, doing a course to become a Teaching Assistant. I’m doing a placement in Reception at a school in Early Years. When I went into college and said I volunteered with Home- Start and had passed the accreditation they were impressed.
Any message to would be volunteers?
Do it! The training is brilliant, the way it is delivered makes it interesting and fun. And I made new friends as well. And it feels good to feel part of a team.
Would You Make a Good Volunteer?
All of our volunteers are parents themselves or have had substantial parenting experience. As such our volunteers understand the challenges of family life.
Our volunteers need to be able to offer 2-3 hours of their time, regularly each week and have some spare time to attend support meetings. We ask that volunteers make a year’s commitment to the scheme.
We will offer you a full training programme so that you feel confident to take on the role of a Home-Start visitor. The training covers such issues as what it is like to visit a family, Confidentiality, Safe-guarding children, Child development and play. If you choose the training can lead to a formal qualification through CERTA.
We feel that it is important for volunteers not to be out of pocket whilst doing voluntary work. We will cover all travelling expenses however unfortunately we are unable to reimburse child-care costs.
Once you have started home-visiting as a volunteer you will be well supported in your role. Trained and professional co-ordinators are on hand to offer support and help with any issues. You will also be invited to attend support meetings where you will have the opportunity to meet other volunteers and discuss issues.
Our volunteers find the experience of supporting a family rewarding. Many volunteers find their confidence in their own skills is boosted and helps them on the path to further education or work.
Volunteer Preparation Course
All our volunteers complete a 9 week / 36 hour accredited volunteer preparation course before starting to visit families. Volunteers can opt to complete a portfolio of work to achieve a level 1 or 2 qualification accredited by CERTA.
If you are interested in joining us for this course and becoming a volunteer for Home-Start Bristol download our Volunteer Application Pack.