One of the most important roles played by a Home-Start volunteer is to help people access local services in their area.

Many families do not know what services are there to help them, or do not understand how to access them. For others a lack of transport or time means they are unable to reach essential services, while those living with mental and physical health problems face many barriers to getting help. 

This is why Home-Start helps families to access their local

  • children’s centre
  • citizens advice bureau
  • local mental health services
  • doctors and dentists
  • housing
  • financial advice
  • and much more

There are lots of ways that volunteers help. From:

  • talking to families and informing them of what other services are there
  • to taking care of children while a parent attends an appointment themselves or with a child
  • to helping them with transport so they reach the service they need.

Home-Start’s own research has shown that families saw a 60% improvement in their ability to access other services.

The best thing about Mandy [my volunteer] is that she gave me the kind of help and support that I know my family would give me if they were close.

A mum from Edinburgh

Many of the families we support describe themselves as isolated. This may be because they live in a remote area and have no transport. They may have a disability that prevents them from leaving their home, or they are living with a mental health problem. Many families are simply new to a community and don’t know anyone they can ask for help.  It can be very lonely in a huge city if you don't know anyone.

The trust that Home-Start volunteers are able to build up with the family means that they are often best placed to encourage families to trust and approach other services, where in the past they would not have been willing to look for help.  More than nine-in-ten of the parents who have had a Home-Start volunteer were using other local services that could help them by the end of their support.