VOLUNTEERS are desperately needed to help at a Portsmouth charity that supports families in need.
Home-Start Portsmouth is launching a preparation course for volunteers on April 26 and is calling for people to get involved.
The course will help prepare people to offer support to families struggling to cope.
Suzy Gage, 42, from Fareham, a co-ordinator at the charity, said: ‘They are families that are struggling in some way or another. Maybe they have twins or triplets who are difficult to cope with. Maybe postnatal depression is a problem, or maybe they are new to the area and don’t know where else to get the support they need.’
‘The course will teach volunteers how to deal with any of these situations.
‘It covers a lot of different topics that concern our families.
‘They will be taught about things like mental health awareness, what to do in situations of domestic abuse and what it means to be a Home-Start volunteer.
‘At the end of the course they are ready to be matched to a family.’
There are many different ways volunteers can help, explained Suzy, it all depends on that individual family’s situation.
‘It might be shopping or helping to take a child to the doctor or to a library to read,’ she said.
‘It might just be sitting with a young mum and having a cup of tea and a chat.
‘It’s about supporting them and enabling them to do whatever they need to do. And the families are thankful for it.’
Home-Start volunteers who finish the course are paired with a family, who they will visit for two to three hours a week over the course of the year.
This approach allows the volunteers to get to know the family they are helping well, and that personal approach is crucial to the way Home-Start works, according to Suzy.
‘We call ourselves professional friends,’ she said.
‘The most important thing that our volunteers do is develop a relationship with the families.
‘We would not run without our volunteers. They are the backbone of our service.
‘They provide the family support that is essential for that family to be able to function and offer the help that they need.’
If you are interested in volunteering, Home-Start Portsmouth, based in Lake Road, has a daytime course, which runs for nine weeks.
The course starts on Tuesday, April 26 and runs every Tuesday morning, 9.30am until 12.30pm until Tuesday, June 28.
There is an evening course on Wednesdays, starting on April 27 from 6pm until 9pm.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a volunteer call (023) 9273 4400, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to hsportsmouth.org.uk.