Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge has heard stories from volunteers and families about the work of Home-Start on a visit to Brookhill Children’s Centre in Woolwich on Wednesday 18 March.

The Duchess used her visit to talk with other parents of young children, and to learn about the challenges they can face and how Home-Start is supporting them.

As well as seeing the work of the children’s centre, which is managed by Home-Start Greenwich, The Duchess of Cambridge was told about Home-Start’s 15,000 volunteers who are supporting 32,000 families across the country in their own homes.

After a private meeting with two families who told The Duchess about the difficulties they have had to overcome and the difference Home-Start had made to their lives, Her Royal Highness went on to a coffee morning. There she chatted with parents about the stresses on them and their children when life gets hard, coping with post natal illness and how parents can support each other through group work. Volunteers described their work with families at home.

Duchess of Cambridge meeting children (Andrew Aitchison)

Home-Start provides support to families facing pressures caused by isolation, mental ill health, multiple births, bereavement, disability, poor housing or financial stress which can all have a devastating effect on parents and their children.

The Duchess then saw a volunteer training session in which volunteers were being taught how best to offer practical and emotional support in a family's home. She was also told about the training they are receiving to carry out Home-Start’s new project, Big Hopes Big Future which is designed to prepare young children for school.

Finally Her Royal Highness said hello to a group of young children in the onsite crèche. The children presented her with a handmade card before she chatted to families about how the crèche helps them.

As she left the centre The Duchess was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a bag of books and toys from Home-Start’s Big Hopes Big Future project for His Royal Highness Prince George.

Marvellous Nyanhi, who along with her son Tanisha presented The Duchess with her gifts, said “The Duchess had a chat with my little one and asked him about the colour of the flowers. She asked me why I am here so I told her I was a supported family at first but now I am training to be a Home-Start volunteer.”

Rob Parkinson, chief executive of Home-Start UK showed The Duchess around the centre throughout her visit and said, “It was a great honour to be able to show The Duchess our work. The Duchess really wanted to hear about the challenges that parents of other young children can face and she was very engaged with all of the families and the issues that they talked about.

“The work that The Duchess saw here today in in Greenwich represents the incredible work that is done by 288 local Home-Starts up and down the country. The Duchess has heard first-hand from families whose lives have been turned around with the support of Home-Start, and that show just how important our work is.”

Home-Start’s work with The Royal Borough of Greenwich at four of its 24 Children’s Centres is a wonderful example of how Home-Start links families into their local communities across the UK.”

The Children’s Centre is one of 24 in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. They provide universal services to families with children under five, with some services targeted at the most disadvantaged and vulnerable families, in order to improve outcomes for children and to reduce the inequalities gap.s a wonderful example of how Home-Start links families into their local communities across the UK.”

Home-Start Greenwich has been running since 1993 and last year supported 200 families and 350 children. It is the first local Home-Start to manage children’s centres, as well as provide home-based support for families.

Home-Start has a network of over 16,000 volunteers in 288 communities across the UK, as well as in British Forces bases in Germany and Cyprus. Volunteers provide free, non-judgemental support and mentoring to over 32,000 families who are struggling to cope in a variety of situations including isolation, mental ill health, bereavement, multiple births, illness or disability.