Home-Start is responding to challenges presented by the coronavirus across Scotland.
Home-Start UK is helping Home-Starts across Scotland to deliver emergency food and essential goods, to families and to buy essential equipment to allow them to connect to their families and carry on support when they can’t meet face to face.
Lifeline family support services across Scotland that normally comprise of home-visits and groups are adapting to life under lockdown, after rapidly moving to online, including virtual cooking classes, Facebook story time and one-to-one digital support.
Scotland’s network of Home-Starts helps over 3,000 families - including more than 6,500 children every year - supporting parents with young children and pregnant woman who are struggling with isolation, poor mental health, insecure housing, trauma, abuse, loss and also those navigating a complex and challenging asylum process.
With all services shut down overnight as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, managers at the 31 Home-Starts across Scotland have worked hard to move as many service online as possible. This has led to innovative solutions like Facebook cookery classes and storytimes. Thanks to their quick work, one-to-one and group support sessions, dad’s groups, virtual art competitions, and weekly story telling sessions are all held online.
Loose Women presenter Kaye Adams, an ambassador of Glasgow North Home-Start and North Lanarkshire, is part of the storytelling sessions on Facebook. She said:
“It’s certainly very different from my usual Fridays on Loose Women! I know lots of people are staying at home to save lives, which we’ve all got to do. It’s hopefully given parents of young children, who are juggling even more than usual just now, the chance to have a breather for a few minutes.”
This flexible approach to service delivery has been embraced by staff, volunteers and service users alike all over Scotland.
Home-Start Scotland acting director, Douglas Guest, said:
"Across Scotland Home-Start teams have transformed their day-to-day service of supporting parents and families in their homes to remotely supporting them via phone calls and video conferencing, on top of ensuring struggling families have access to what they need in these challenging times."
“There are examples of this up and down the country. From 150 activity packs being rushed out the door by Glasgow South Home-Start before lockdown, to them providing Zoom groups for dads, and launching new online antenatal support sessions."
“In Caithness teams are ensuring families remain connected by supplying digital devices with data, to getting money into families accounts in Cowdenbeath so they can buy essential supplies like food and nappies. In Orkney staff are still working to ensure they support families. “
In addition to this, Home Start Scotland has partnered with East Lothian catering company, Thomas Franks, who have diverted the 1000s of meals they would normally be producing for children in private schools to provide and deliver daily cooked meals to families in need of support. They are also working with 31 different local charities to ensure the households they support are still able to access essential support.
Home-Start Glasgow North manager, Nikki O’Hara, said:
“We’re hugely lucky to have Kaye Adams’ support with this new initiative. Much of our work involves sending our trained volunteers into family’s homes to support them. With the current health crisis we’ve had to look at lots of new ways of supporting our families, and Storytime with Kaye has been a highlight of the day for many of them, with thousands of families watching not just in Glasgow but across Scotland!
“We have enjoyed connecting with staff, supporters and partners to help us create and deliver new exciting content for Facebook engaging and supporting families at this challenging time. We are now ready to take the next step to delivering online support with the help of our amazing and committed volunteers.”