Home-Start had to turn away thousands of children who needed its help in 2015/16 because of lack of funds.  The charity is now launching its 2016 Snowflake Appeal to raise funds to help more children and their families.

"There were thousands of children who Home-Start had to turn away last year because there weren't the funds to recruit and train a volunteer to help them" said tv presenter and Home-Start ambassador Kirstie Allsopp. “But their volunteers, who work with these children, genuinely change lives for the better, for ever."

Recording a video released for the launch of Home-Start's Snowflake Appeal for vulnerable children, she appealed to people everywhere to donate, shop or fundraise to help the charity support more children facing tragedy and hardship this year and next. (See her video appeal here).

Last year Home-Start managed to support more than 60,000 children in 30,000 families throughout the UK. But many young children are still experiencing hardship or tragedy through no fault of their own and the charity had to turn thousands away last year. Research has shown that 26% of babies are estimated to be living within complex family situations where there are problems such as domestic violence, mental illness or drug/alcohol abuse**. More than a third of the families Home-Start supports experience mental ill health, almost half are isolated and 13% face domestic violence***.

Rob Parkinson, chief executive of Home-Start UK said, “There are vulnerable children who need support to get them through some very tough times and this is where Home-Start can help. We are often the last chance for them and their families. We want to reach every child who needs us, as early as we can, so that they can have the best possible start in life.

“When a child loses a parent”, he continued, “when they face severe illness, or disability, when their mother has postnatal depression, when their father loses his job and spirals into debt and mental illness or alcohol abuse, when they are living in poor or unsuitable housing conditions or their family is threatened with losing their home... Home-Start's volunteers want to be there for them – to help them and their whole family until they are able to cope again”.

2016 Snowflake Appeal supporters include national homewares retailer, Dunelm,  the LoveCrochet community who will be encouraging the crafting of snowflakes to help raise funds, and the KiddiCaru day nursery group who will be running fundraising events.

Anyone can help. The charity has launched an appeal website, www.snowflake.org.uk, where fundraising packs and ways to donate can be found alongside a shop selling snowflake decorations, cards, bunting, friendship bracelets and much more. “From crocheting snowflakes to holding a cake sale or getting sponsored on your snowboard – there is something for everyone”, said Kirstie Allsopp. Money can be raised for Home-Start UK or for any of the 260 local Home-Starts around the country.

The snowflake symbol was chosen for the appeal because every child Home-Start supports is as unique and fragile as a snowflake.

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Notes to editors

* Home-Starts records show that 1,949 families could not be supported last year because there was not a volunteer available to help them. Using the Home-Start average of 2.23 childen per family, that means more than 4,000 children could not be supported.  Source: Home-Start's MESH data, UK wide

**2013 NSPCC All Babies Count Campaign

*** Key findings from a first analysis of data drawn from 33,925 Home-Start families and 76,031 children supported from April 2011-October 2012