Home-Start in Suffolk family support charity encourages people to put volunteering on their New Year resolutions list

A Suffolk-based family support charity are urging people to consider putting volunteering at the top of their 2022 “to-do list” to support families in the community who need help.

The call comes amid a growing rise in awareness that giving back to others through volunteering is good for your mental health and well-being.

Home-Start in Suffolk supported more than 575 local families from April 2020 to March 2021 thanks to a network of fully trained award-winning volunteers who help families with children up to the age 12 through a range of issues, including, loneliness, isolation, mental health, domestic abuse, bereavement, health struggles, disabilities, poverty and much more. 

The charity has seen referral numbers more than double in recent months meaning it is vital that more volunteers are recruited and trained to cope with the rise in demand. 

Tara Spence, CEO of Home-Start in Suffolk said: “The last few years have been really difficult for everyone, and we have seen families hit hard as a result of the pandemic in a many different ways.

“We hope the New Year might inspire people to consider volunteering. It has a huge positive impact, not just on the life of supported families, but also for the volunteer themselves. Volunteering is associated with higher levels of wellbeing, better general health, improved life satisfaction and is a fulfilling way to help your local community. It creates a sense of purpose, promotes routine and the most important of all, makes people feel happy.

“Home-Start works because it is such a simple yet powerful concept. Volunteers are matched with a family, then visit or call them once a week to provide vital emotional support and practical help. It’s very satisfying to see families get the help they need when they need it most and seeing them blossom and grow in confidence is so rewarding.” 

Ali

Volunteer Ali was asked to explain why she loves being a volunteer. “I absolutely love being a Home-Start in Suffolk volunteer.  Being able to make a difference to a family’s life is a wonderful feeling and I feel privileged to have been part journey of the families I have supported.”

Thomas

Thomas who has been supporting families for a number of years said “I find being a volunteer for Home-Start really rewarding. It gives me the chance to give back and I feel I have sense of purpose. The team are lovely and always on hand to support me too which makes it even more special.”

Volunteer Ines who joined the organisation in 2020 said “I have experienced anxiety and depression myself and I know it can be really hard and challenging. Even though being a parent is the most rewarding thing ever, it can be tough and sometimes you want someone to speak to and Home-Start volunteers are there to offer that support. I joined Home-Start because I really want to give the best support I can to Suffolk Families, and I love being part of the team.”

Supported mum Vikki said “I cannot thank my volunteer enough for all the support she has given to me and my family. I think Home-Start in Suffolk are amazing and they go above and beyond to help.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, keep going because you guys are amazing!”

There are home-visiting volunteer opportunities and also a range of other volunteer opportunities either in person or remotely via phone or zoom, including administration roles and fund raising.

“New Year is a time when people often re-evaluate their lives and goals,” continues Tara, “so it would be amazing if people could put volunteering on their New Year to-do list.”

Home-Start in Suffolk have been supporting families across the county for more than 22 years and in 2021 their volunteers were recognised for their incredible work by being awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Services – the equivalent of an MBE for volunteering. 

  • Find out more about volunteering for Home-Start in Suffolk by calling 01473 621104 or visit www.homestartinsuffolk.org
  • There is a growing body of research on the links between volunteering and wellbeing. Studies show that most people in Great Britain – around seven in ten – formally volunteer through a group, club or organisation at some point in their lives. Currently, one in five people volunteer at least once a month and most get involved locally in their own neighbourhoods. Many more give their time in more informal ways in communities, for example, shopping or caring for neighbours. Volunteering is associated with enhanced wellbeing, including improved life satisfaction, increased happiness and decreases in symptoms of depression. 

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