A CHARITY that provides vital help to support struggling families with young children has been given a massive funding boost.
Home Link Family Support – which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year – has received £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, which will fund the expansion of its antenatal home-visiting service for the next five years.
The grant – the biggest in the organisation’s history – will also fund the recruitment of two early years coordinators.
The charity, which covers both Edinburgh and Midlothian, has now launched a drive to attract more volunteers.
Manager Paula Swanston said: “We have more than 30 years of success delivering family support in the south of the city. But with the Big Lottery funding we will now have the capacity to reach and support more children and their families – helping tackle issues of isolation and children’s wellbeing though our early intervention work.
“This grant is a massive show of confidence in the great work we are doing and have been doing – much of it largely unknown.
“The majority of our service is delivered by a dedicated, highly trained team of volunteers who give up their own time to visit the families at home.
“Volunteers are able to build a trusting relationship with families giving them more confidence to access services and opportunities that social barriers prevent them benefitting from.
“We are effective because families let us in where some professionals can struggle. Families know that volunteers are there because they want to be, not because they are paid to be.
“We are filling the gaps of key partners who have large caseloads and little time to do all the early intervention that is needed – so we can prevent situations escalating into crises.”
Home Link Family Support also operates a support service for young parents and a family counselling service in Midlothian.
In its last year, the charity has carried out more than 8000 home visits.
One mother, who was struggling with post-natal depression, said: “You have so much guilt when you have post-natal depression. She [volunteer] just took so much of that pressure away.
“I just appreciated having a kind and friendly person who was genuinely interested in me, my life and my children. She made me realise that I am not alone and that there are wonderful people in the world who are willing to give up their spare time to spend with complete strangers and help them out when they are really struggling.
“As a family we’re nearly there now. I feel so much better in myself. I feel so much stronger and that I can do it now.”
Potential new volunteers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 661 0890.