Families in Preston are being offered extra support following the launch of a new consortium.
Home-Start Lancashire and Cumbria has now built up a consortium of its six local Home-Start schemes and it held a celebration launch in the city to reach out to families in the area.
Schemes included in the Home-Start Lancashire and Cumbria Consortium are: Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre; Pendle and Ribble Valley; Rossendale, Hyndburn and Burnley; Morecambe and Lancaster; Central Lancashire and Blackburn and Darwen.
Donna Hussain, chairman of Home-Start Lancashire and Cumbria, says: “We currently have services operating across Lancashire, but lesser so in Preston.
“So we felt it would be a good idea to hold the launch there and to try to gain support and build our current networks to look at filling some of the gaps in family support and early child development across the Preston area.
“As with all areas across Lancashire, Preston has a number of areas with high deprivation, low 0-five-year-old development skills, high infant mortality rates, high levels of domestic violence and abuse cases, increased drug and alcohol abuse and a rise in mental health issues.
“Home-Start offers family support that can help with all of those issues from a holistic approach.
“Recently, government estimated the cost to the public purse of family support for a troubled family to be on average £75,000 per year. Home-Start support a family with trained volunteers for approximately £1,500 per year.
“Our impact is measurable not just from a cost saving point of view but also from a transformation within children and families when they are supported by us.
“Six local Home-Start schemes from across Lancashire have now joined forces to deliver their unique family support services through a range of projects across Lancashire and Cumbria.
“Improving the lives of families with young children is at the core of the service.
“Over the last 12 months Home-Start Lancashire and Cumbria has provided support to 548 families through 405 weekly home-visiting, fully prepared volunteers. 519 families have accessed Home-Start via 24 family groups available around the communities of Lancashire.
“In total, 2,464 children and their parents have benefited from the support Home-Start Lancashire and Cumbria has provided.”
The launch, at The Minster Church, Preston, welcomed special guests including the Right Worshipful Mayor of Preston, Councillor Brian Rollo and Mayoress, Mrs Trisha Rollo and the Right Honourable Lindsay Hoyle MP.
Dr Karen Whittaker, Reader in Child and Family Health, School of Nursing at University of Central Lancashire, gave a presentation about her role in supporting families.
Rob Parkinson, CEO from Home-Start UK, talked about how Home-Start UK will be supporting the development of Home-Start consortia, mergers and partnerships in Lancashire and Cumbria.
Donna adds: “In addition, I gave a speech about my journey over the last 10 years with Home-Start, starting as an advisor for the board when I was a forced marriage and so called honour-based violence consultant.”
Home-Start is the UK’s leading family support charity. It has six schemes in the area, with Home-Start Central Lancashire, based in Chorley, recently celebrating its 21st birthday.
It recruits and train volunteers to support parents with at least one child under the age of five.
The charity was founded in 1973 and now supports nearly 33,000 families and more than 60,000 children each year.
Almost 16,000 volunteers visit families in their own homes – parents supporting other parents in a variety of situations including isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness or disability.