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Folkestone Herald: Abused women find new freedom at Home-Start


MEMBERS of the New Beginnings domestic abuse project have created a fabric wall hanging showing scenes from their town.News editor Eleanor Jones met two women who had previously been told they were worth nothing.

"THE bruising fades and there's nothing there – nothing visible. It's the same with the emotional abuse, being called a parasite and a waste of space. On the outside, I might look smiley and happy but inside here are so many tears, if I let them out, I'd flood the world."

Home Start Shepway, based in Cheriton Gardens, runs groups for and provides support to parents, children and families, as well as victims of domestic abuse.

Pauline Hobson-Smith, project worker for New Beginnings, said: "This isn't just a drop-in, so there's a commitment, at a group which gives them the support they need.

"What I aim is to show women the signs to look for and the strength to deal with it. Not every woman wants to leave and we understand that but we give them the tools to work with. Some women go back to their relationships but if they come to us, there's a pathway for them, to freedom, and the power to change."

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Daily Mail: The vital lesons we all have to learn about cash


Schoolchildren will finally be educated about how to manage money from next month as personal finance makes it on to the compulsory list of topics to be taught in school. Young people are set to find out about mortgages and pensions, as well as how to save and spot a cost-effective deal. But the classroom is not the only place that children can learn about money. Laura Shannon speaks to teachers, parents and pupils about personal finance and looks at the lessons that everyone needs to learn.

... A report by national charity Home-Start and Lloyds Bank reveals that half of more than 2,300 adults polled for its study did not discuss personal finance with their families when they were children. And nearly a third still believe it is inappropriate to include children in such discussions.

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Liverpool Echo: computer whizz Ralph wins national award


Computer whiz-kid Ralph Smith was desperate to find work but his Asperger’s syndrome, which makes it hard for him to relate to people, made it impossible to find a role that suited him.

Now, Ralph, 22, has won a prestigious national award in recognition of his voluntary work at Home Start Wirral’s charity shop in Claughton Village. Ralph was found a work placement at the store by Wirral Autistic Society’s Step into Work Plus scheme.The scheme prepares young adults with Asperger’s syndrome for the world of work through mentoring, specialist training and work placement opportunities.

Ralph told staff at Home Start Wirral that he liked working with computers, rather than dealing with people face-to-face, so they thought he might like to help sort through donated books, selling the valuable volumes on-line.

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The Guardian: To protect children, they must always be the priority


Sometimes the sense that we are standing in the wrong place to see what's really happening turns out not to be a sad personality defect, but the truth. It is often easier to grasp with hindsight. For example, it is really not difficult to look back and be horrified at the slowly building evidence of establishment complicity – at best – in a child abuse ring that involved public figures, and wonder why it seemed more important to protect the adults and the system in which they prospered than the children who were their victims.

But it takes a greater effort of imagination to see that while, for example, enabling parents to return to work is important, if the focus was on the wellbeing of children first and foremost, then priorities might be slightly altered. What if the political attention paid to affordable and available childcare, or violence against women, began rather than ended with the question of "what about the children?". Would it change the spending priorities if the first objective of policy was to make sure that children have safe places to live and play, enough good food to eat and support when a family crisis strikes?

When it so often feels that women are an afterthought in policymaking, to suggest children should come first might appear to be wilful obstructionism (or just daft). But according to a new survey by the charity Home Start, which befriends struggling families at home and is producing its first ever manifesto tomorrow, even these basic preconditions of wellbeing – warm dry homes, safe, protected places to play, nutritious meals – are missing from the lives of many of the families it helps, making it all the harder to sustain stable relationships.

The UK notoriously languishes in the bottom half of Unicef's annual estimates of children's wellbeing in rich countries. Each year, the Children's Society's good childhood report identifies the cornerstones of happiness: feeling safe at home, being part of a stable family, and free from bullying at school. What a devastating reflection of this government's effort that these simple essentials are still missing from people's lives.

It seems clear that the way policy is targeted now is still failing the most vulnerable families. Part of the reason is money. So many children's services are delivered by local councils that it is no surprise that they have been under cruel pressure – particular smaller voluntary sector organisations like Home Start, where local groups have been engaged in a fight for survival that has not always been successful.

But the less money there is, the more priorities tell. Of all the UK, England is sclerotically slow, last to institute a children's commissioner, still foot-dragging over child detention, still clinging to a Victorian approach to the age of criminal responsibility and still, we are now horribly aware, prepared to sacrifice some of the most vulnerable children to preserve the face of the establishment. It is the poorest children, inevitably, who are the most exposed. But all children suffer from their low visibility to policymakers.

Yet the new sensitivity to what was formerly a matter to brush behind the brocade sofas of gentleman's clubs suggests a change could be on the way. Home Start is only one of several charities that is setting out to influence policy. At the beginning of the week the childcare charity 4Children organised a session in parliament to try to force children's policies onto the pre-election manifesto-writing agenda.

If something good was to come out of the long-delayed exposure to the abuse of children in the 70s and 80s – along with some justice for the victims – it would be to jolt policymakers out of the mindset that if you look after the parents, the children will be looked after too.

York Press: Home-Start saved thanks to Lottery


A CHARITY which supports struggling families across Ryedale has been given a major financial boost which will enable it to both continue and expand its work. Home-Start Ryedale, which is based in Norton, has been awarded a £283,170 grant from The BIG Lottery Reaching Communities Fund.

Set up in 2007, the charity recruits and trains parent volunteers to support families who are finding it hard to cope for any reason. During the past year it has supported 42 families, with a total of 86 children, across Ryedale - double the demand of the previous 12 months.

Jo Oliver, coordinator at Home-Start Ryedale, said the five- year Lottery grant would be used to help fund their running costs and also to extend the service into southern Ryedale.

“We feel extremely privileged that the BIG Lottery can see the benefits our project will bring to children and families throughout the area," she added.

"In a time when many charities are facing uncertain financial futures, to receive funds to continue our service for another five years is absolutely amazing news – we can’t believe how well our efforts have paid off. This funding will enable us to recruit some new members of staff to join our small team – something we haven’t been able to do until now.”

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