On Volunteers’ Week 2021, we would like to take the opportunity to thank the thousands of extraordinary Home-Start volunteers across the UK for the time, energy and commitment they have devoted to Home-Start families, ensuring children get the best start in life.

Whether they are family support volunteers, trustees, admin staff, or volunteer in another capacity, every moment of the time that they donate is a gift that we appreciate immensely.

During this challenging year where we have collectively battled a pandemic and lived through lockdowns, our volunteers have shown they truly are the heart of Home-Start, continuing to support families online, on the phone, with doorstep visits or with socially distanced walks when regulations allowed.

Families have told us that contact from Home-Start volunteers has often been the only meaningful conversation they have had from week to week during Covid-19, and for families with babies born in lockdown who have lost access to Health Visitors and other medical professionals, their Home-Start volunteer may have been the only consistent support available to them.

In a letter to volunteers for Volunteers Week, Peter Grigg, Chief Executive of Home-Start UK said “We really couldn’t do any of this without you. As home-visitors, as trustees, as group workers, as fundraisers, and all the various roles you play to support Home-Start. I can’t imagine it has been an easy time to volunteer, but please know that you are greatly appreciated. Thank you for being the heart of Home-Start”.

Celebrate Volunteers' Week by posting on our comment wall

To help celebrate the amazing work of Home-Start volunteers, we are inviting you to post on our comment wall telling us what a Home-Start Volunteer means to you. Whether you are a volunteer, know a volunteer, or are supported by a volunteer, please take this opportunity to share your thoughts for Volunteers' Week.

'Home Is Where We Start From' report shows impact of volunteering

In a new report entitled 'Home Is Where We Start From' published by Home-Start UK during Volunteers' Week 2021, we measures the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on parents of young children. Findings revealed that families are facing unprecedented challenges, with the pandemic acting both as a magnifier of existing disadvantage, as well tipping more people, who were just about managing before, into poverty. However, 77% of parents said they felt more comfortable turning to a volunteer for support than a professional, and 83% said Home-Start had been a lifeline during the pandemic.

Read more: home-start.org.uk/news/inequalities-exposed

Tribute to the 'Mary Poppins of Home-Start'

This year we sadly lost one of our longest standing volunteers. Zita McConnell. Zita volunteered for Home-Start for 35 years, supporting an estimated 100 families in that time. Sadly, Zita passed away in April and she will be greatly missed, not only by her own family but by the extended family she created through Home-Start.

Mum, Annie Bird, described the impact Zita made on her family saying “When I was feeling so low and anxious about letting a stranger in our home, and needing them to understand my children’s complex needs, a ‘Zita from Home-Start’ turned up as our very own Mary Poppins. She would scoop the children up making them feel loved, it was as if we’d always known her. Her smile was infectious and she had the best chuckle! She revelled in the children’s cheeky sides and always drew out the best in them. With literally the patience of a saint, she would cuddle my daughter to sleep, persevere with feeding or play the same game of trains with my son over and over! Zita had time for everyone and would always ask about me. She remembered the small things, making you realise she really cared. The world could do with more like her...we certainly struck lucky. Our family will really miss this special lady.

Home-Start is grateful to Zita for her extraordinary commitment and for working with us to change the lives of families for the better.

Volunteer with Home-Start

Find out more about volunteering with Home-Start