ScotlandOur local Home-Starts across Scotland support over 3000 families and nearly 6000 children very year. Our local community network of over 1000 trained volunteers work with families from before birth through to school age offering compassionate, confidential help to parents when they need us most. Our focus is on enabling parents and carers to be the warm, consistent and nurturing adults they want to be so that their children get the best possible start in life. Starting in the home our approach is as individual as the people we are helping – on most days of the week you will find teams of great parent to parent supporters involved in activities as diverse as offering one to one support around perinatal mental health problems, increasing breastfeeding through local support groups, getting children outdoors through gardening and messy play days, tackling the attainment gap in partnership with schools, bringing lonely or isolated parents together to forge new friendships and getting dads involved in antenatal workshops. Home-Start in Scotland brings the Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach to life by bringing family support to the parents and carers who need it most because childhood can’t wait. volunteer our work Contact us in Edinburgh Who Cares? being there for people with experience of the care system Who Cares? Scotland is an organisation that works with and for people with experience of the care system. Home-Start knows that experience of care can have a lifelong impact and we support fully the Who Cares? vision of a lifetime of equality, respect and love for Care Experienced people. In this blog Lee Davidson, a Care Experienced parent now on the board of Who Cares? Scotland, reflects on her own experience of HomeStart Scotland and the value of becoming a member of Who Cares? Loneliness is something that affects all new mothers. I remember watching friends aged 21 going out enjoying a life I could only dream of. Don’t think that is because I was a young mum, oh no - that part was amazing. Tiny fingers, tiny toes, the most amazing smell and baby soft hugs. Lots of kisses and hugs on tap, and it was good for baby’s development, it's win-win! All the love in the world wrapped up neatly in your arms. No: the loneliness that kicked in was being reminded how alone you really were. There was no one to call on to ask advice, apart from professionals. Childcare is always an issue because the choices you have are toxic ones. When the baby has colic and you are so damn tired, you cry all the time and you are ticking the boxes on the health forms. The health visitor comes so you bust your ass to tidy up, “I promise I know what I am doing… I am not a bad parent… I will never let my baby down” So when the health visitor asks you “how are you coping?”, you say “I’m okay.” When they ask you if you have support or the dreaded ‘who is your next of Kin’… and you have to say “I don’t have one” … then they say “There must be someone, family or friend you can call on? “ See, being a Care Experienced parent means life is more difficult. There is no one to talk to, no one you trust enough to watch the wee one so you can just sleep. A few years ago, I found myself as a single mum in a new community without a friend. Having heard of a HomeStart mums’ group, I decided it would be a good way to tackle the loneliness and isolation and perhaps integrate myself into the new community. From meeting weekly with new mums the same as me to gaining confidence enough to apply for college and now university, the group helped me thrive and feel part of my community. Now I am a board member for Who Cares? Scotland and recognise the barriers I had as a Care Experienced parent were being able to connect and build relationships. I’d encourage any Care Experienced parents who want some help to seek out Home-Start support and to sign up as a Member of Who Cares? Scotland. You become part of a wider community of people who just “get it”, where you don’t have to explain yourself or your situation, where you can fight to ensure the next generation of kids in care have a better experience than you might have had. Every child in Scotland deserves a lifetime of equality, respect and love – and together we’ll make sure we achieve that. If you want to sign up as a member go to the Who Cares? website www.whocaresscotland.org Membership is open to those who want to be part of changing things for the better as well as for people with direct experience of the care system.