(Image: Left to right: Carole Whatnall, Scheme Manager of Home-Start Runnymede and Woking,  Sara, a mum supported by Home-Start with her partner Lee and Sally Marks, Chairman of Surrey County Council. The photographer is Andy Newbold.)

Home-Start Surrey families share their inspirational stories as this leading family support charity calls for investment in its Early Intervention approach.

Last Thursday, at the Building Better Futures reception hosted by Sally Marks, Chairman of Surrey County Council and Home-Start Surrey, 5 local families shared their personal journeys through a documentary film and observational photo-essays.   When parents can’t cope, children suffer and the impact can last a lifetime.

Sally Marks, Chairman of Surrey County Council said:

“Home-Start is one of the most cost-effective charities there is. They intervene early, stopping many families from reaching crisis point and needing more costly support. That is why Surrey County Council is offering its full support to Home-Start’s Building Better Futures event.”

Sally also made the point that whilst Surrey was a county that was seen as largely affluent with areas of high wealth, there were also pockets of severe deprivation, creating an even greater divide for those families who are struggling with poverty.

Hugh Shanks, Trustee of Home-Start Surrey said:

“As life becomes much harder for many families, the more Home-Start is seeing an increase in referrals. We could reach out to many more families in Surrey who need support if we had more funding to train and support more volunteers.”

Currently, Home-Start Surrey supports 725 families and over 1600 children, right across the county.  Of these:

  • a third are living in poverty
  • a further third have a child with an illness or disability
  • and more than half are dealing with poor mental health

Liz Westwood, manager of Home-Start Guildford said:

“Our volunteers play a vital role. Over time they develop deep and trusting relationships with families that can lead to powerful change”.   A sentiment confirmed by mum Sara in the documentary film, who said: “Home-Start was the catalyst for every single positive change that’s happened in my life.”

Home-Start Surrey also launched their Building Better Futures for Children Appeal – reaching out for support from the local community to help sustain and expand the work we do.  From fundraising and donations, to volunteering and business mentoring – there are many ways individuals and organisations can get involved.

Home-Start Surrey’s 400 home-visiting volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation – offering practical and emotional support to families facing difficulties such as isolation, domestic abuse, multiple births and post-natal depression.  Families like those who had the dignity, courage and strength to share their stories last night:

  • Comfort – a young mum from Uganda who suffered years of domestic abuse
  • Sara – diagnosed with severe mental health issues at 15 following years of childhood abuse and drug addiction
  • Lisa – whose babies were diagnosed with twin to twin transfusion syndrome at 14 weeks
  • Jay – a dad who’s raising his little girl on his own, as his daughter’s mum has progressive Multiple Sclerosis
  • Sally – who struggled to cope with depression and Crohn’s disease whilst looking after her premature twins with breathing problems

To view the film, go to our home page.   Click here to view the photo-essays.