A Midlothian-based charity which 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 last year, has received £500,000 from the Big Lottery Fund which will fund the expansion of its Edinburgh early years home visiting service for the next five years as well as safeguarding its work in Midlothian.
A drive has been launched to attract more volunteers from Midlothian to support its growing workload.
Manager Paula Swanston said: “We have more than 30 years of success delivering early years family support. 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 through 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.”
Up to 30 new volunteers are being sought across Midlothian. Any people interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 661 0890.
Paula added: “Our volunteers tell us that their experience with Home Link Family Support is really rewarding. For some, it is the opportunity to get upskilled for future careers and for those who have retired; it’s a chance to continue to use valuable skills that they have such as ex midwives, nurses and social workers.
“They receive training and supervision that is appropriate to enable them to be competent to meet family need, ensuring they feel properly supported and able to deliver excellent service to families.”
As well as the Family Support Service and Antenatal Support Service, Home Link Family Support operates a Midlothian Young Parents Support Service and a unique Systemic Family Counselling Service in Midlothian.
Any family with a child under five who is experiencing difficulties can be eligible for a family support volunteer – which often leads to them reporting that they are happier and more able to cope with their children.
Paula added: “We aim to support parents to fully engage with the positive emotional development of their children, to help nurture healthy parent-child relationships, and to encourage parents to fully understand and participate in their child’s early learning.
“Through early intervention we seek to support families to bring up their children so that they can become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.”
In its last year, Home Link Family Support has provided more than 8000 home visits and 40,000 volunteer hours – equivalent to the economic value of £288,500.