Importance of the ‘Throw a Lifeline’ Christmas appeal
“I eat cereal for dinner most nights, and already use the food bank. My partner works away 5 days a week – days and nights. I can’t do paid work, looking after 2 small kids on my own, so instead I spend as little as possible,” says Kath, a local mum supported by local charity, Home-Start Arun, Worthing & Adur. (HSAWA)
The charity is launching their first ever Christmas appeal, asking the community to ‘Throw a Lifeline’ to give hope to local families struggling this Christmas.
Bridget Richardson, Chief Executive Officer, says: “Christmas is often the toughest time for many families already struggling to cope. Physically, financially, and emotionally it represents a real and desperate challenge for many.”
Parenting is hard at times, but it can become incredibly difficult if experiencing poor mental or physical health, living in unsuitable accommodation, lone parenting, poverty, domestic abuse, bereavement, or loneliness.
During Lockdown last Christmas, Lucy, a single mother, and her two children, were all sleeping on mattresses on the floor, in rundown temporary accommodation, trying to cope with the death of the family’s youngest child. A Home-Start volunteer visited Lucy bearing gifts for the children and some food to help make their Christmas day as special as possible.
Lucy was so grateful and overwhelmed by the visit and described the on-going support she was receiving from Home-Start as her ‘lifeline.’
Helping local parents through their most challenging times
Home-Start supports families with children under five with practical, emotional, and confidential 1-2-1 support, via a network of volunteers and experts and is a trusted organisation for professional early years and medical workers to refer families to who need help. (Parents can also self-refer). For over 22 years they have supported 2,450 families and 5,186 children across West Sussex.
Of the parents supported last year, 74% were struggling with their mental health and 21% had a disability within the family. Over half were experiencing financial hardship and a quarter lived in entirely unsuitable accommodation. Each year, around a quarter of their supported children live in homes where there is or has been domestic abuse.
Although West Sussex is considered an affluent county there are in fact many areas of deprivation. 30% of their referred families came from the top 10% of areas most deprived nationally. Almost all struggled with loneliness and isolation.
Trained volunteers with lived experience of parenting, grandparenting or working with children, give non-judgemental, confidential, 1-2-1 support in the home or in the community. They help improve parent’s mental health and wellbeing, allowing them to feel less consumed with adult issues and refocus on their children’s wellbeing.
Supporting parents with children under 5 years makes the greatest difference in improving their children’s long-term physical, emotional and educational life chances. It gives them the best chance of a bright future as their parents are better able to provide a safe and nurturing home. Intervention to support struggling families makes lasting improvements in the lives of their children wider community.
Bridget says: “Home-Start services are needed more than ever before. The cost-of-living crisis is putting a real strain on so many more local families, and I particularly worry for those who were already close to breaking point.”
Throwing a lifeline to change a family’s life
Donating £25 to Home-Start’s lifeline appeal will enable one of their volunteers to give 1-2-1 practical and emotional support to a family in their home over the festive period.
They will be able to provide Christmas food and presents for children, volunteers can help with family budgeting, healthy eating, advice on how to stay warm, sourcing foodbank vouchers, provide a vital listening ear, ease loneliness and help sprinkle a little Christmas magic for the children. The food and gifts are often vital to many who would otherwise go without and help families celebrate Christmas.
Bridget continued: “So many parents like Lucy call their volunteer their ‘lifeline.’ Please donate today – whatever you can afford – and help us be that lifeline for all those families and children – our neighbours – facing a challenging festive period and beyond. It will mean so much to our families who will know that their community cares.”
To donate to their ‘Throw a Lifeline’ appeal go to www.home-startawa.org.uk.
You can BACS transfer Home-Start AWA account no 13567729 Sort 202062 reference ‘Appeal’ or send a cheque made payable to Home-Start Arun, Worthing, and Adur to 5C Park Farm, Chichester Road, Arundel, BN18 0AD.
If you are a family that needs support from Home-Start, please contact 01903 889707 or Email: [email protected].