FAMILIES across Mid Cheshire struggling to cope with young children now have somewhere new to turn to - Home-Start.
Home-Start is an international charity that has been operating for more than 30 years, providing support and guidance to thousands of parents and children in more than 300 communities in the UK.
It is setting up a branch in Vale Royal and hopes to be fully up and running by July, sustained by a network of specially-trained parent volunteers.
Co-ordinator and mother-of-two Christine Baker explained that at the centre of Home-Start is the belief that parents have the key role in creating a secure and happy environment for their children - it's just that sometimes they need a bit of help.
She said: 'There's quite a lot of deprivation in Vale Royal and the area has been identified for quite a long time as suitable for Home-Start.
'The basic idea is to help families with at least one child under five bring up young children, which is obviously very difficult and most people find it so.
'Families can be referred to us by a health visitor or they can refer themselves. We only go and help families if they want help and it is fully intended as a tem-
'The volunteer might help a family in their own home for six- to 12 months to give them more confidence, getting parents back on their feet when they are finding things difficult.'
Christine says there are many different ways Home-Start volunteers can assist families - offering practical support as simple as taking children to the park, reassuring parents their childcare problems are not unique and providing encouragement, or just being there for someone who may feel isolated in the community are just three examples.
The charity, which has a temporary base at the Vale Royal CVS (Council for Voluntary Service) centre on Navigation Road, North-wich, is seeking volunteers and the only qualification needed is parental experience.
Christine said: 'Most volunteers have got experience of parenting and can relate to the families whom
you find are much happier to have some help off other parents who have often been in the same boat at some point rather than social workers.
'A small minority of our volunteers don't have their own children but might have been working with children or have been fostering children.
'Volunteers have a 10-week training course which is only four hours a week so it's not so onerous and we ask volunteers to spend at least three hours a week with a family - you can spend more time but that's the minimum.' nContact Christine Baker on 01606 723180 if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or think your family could benefit from the support of Home-Start.