We commissioned Verity Elliott from Creativity in Practice to talk to parents who had received support from Home-Start Leeds during lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Funding was received to connect with families during the pandemic from Home-Start UK and the Leeds Covid response, some of this funding enabled Verity to talk to parents and receive feedback.
Parents summary of feedback and comments is provided below:
Parents talked about phone support via their volunteer as well as the opportunity to meet face-to-face for example walks outdoors when able to do so and visits in the home with social distancing and facemasks as appropriate. Home-Start provided resources that included activity packs for children, ‘pamper’ packs for parents and practical resources such as bedding, baby equipment etc as well as advice and guidance.
The support provided was greatly appreciated, parents talked about the positive difference the help and support made at a time when they felt particularly isolated and alone.
Parents said they really appreciated the support, Home-Start Leeds compared very favourably with other similar services and one parent said she hoped Home-Start would always be around to support families in Leeds.
Stories from parents
“Home-Start are like angels”
Mum with two children aged 16 months and 3 years. Some shared care with the father. HS have been providing support for approx. 2 years.
During the pandemic, life was different as to start with Home-Start provided weekly phone calls and sometimes these were more than once a week when mum was going through a particularly difficult period; up to three calls a week which were “really great”. Even phone calls were very helpful. Home-Start were then able to visit for walks in the park.
Home-Start helped with mum’s mental health, listening
“I could talk to them about anything, they are really kind people, I haven’t met so many kind people before. They made me feel so comfortable and the lady who was supporting me, we were able to meet a few times and my children love her as well; they could sense that she was a good person. My daughter smiled at her which was a surprise. They were always there for me, I could reach out and they would call me.”
Home-Start provided small gifts for the children for example at Easter.
“I have met the co-ordinator too and they have been so kind, it has been like counselling, they listen to everything I say, I used to have counselling and you can tell when someone is really listening.”
Home-Start have provided practical help including going shopping. Mum couldn’t think of anything that Home-Start could have done.
“Home-Start have given me super extra time, I have never been so grateful to anyone and I couldn’t find kinder people. They make me feel so comfortable and they are so trustworthy.”
“Home-Start really care”
Mum is 28 years of age and has one child aged 4 years. HS have supported for approx. 3 years.
During Covid, Home-Start have provided a range of support including computer tablets and phone calls. The tablets enabled mum to have some “human interaction”. This was especially useful in the first lock-down when there was no nursery and mum struggled with looking after her little boy.
The tablet enabled access to the internet and in particular, the peer support group and courses. Mum’s iPhone had broken before Christmas. “I do everything on-line”.
Home-Start provided a few activity packs for example, themed for Easter and colouring books. They also provided pamper packs for mum; bath soaps and little things that mum couldn’t afford to buy.
Home-Start also had weekly phone calls and as lock down restrictions were lifted, the opportunity to go for a walk with the volunteer.
“Getting out of the house and going for a walk with someone was a huge help”.
“No one else offers the support that HS provide. From looking from the outside, it might not look like much but it is really good; just having a conversation. Please keep doing with you are doing. Home-Start actually care, more than the other services out there. The activity with ideas of what to do and the newsletter every month; ideas of what I can do, even 10 minutes of something to do with my child. It gives me other ideas of what to do. In the pamper pack there was also a booklet of 50 things to do with your child which was brilliant”
“They were there when I needed them”
Mum aged 23 years with a learning disability and a 6 month old baby.
Mum has had support from Home-Start before her baby was born due to a referral from a local children’s centre.
Mum talked about the contact she has had from Home-Start.
“Home-Start have helped with things that I needed like a baby bath and highchair; they have also provided some books for babies. They also provided some vouchers for food.”
Home-Start have kept in touch with phone calls and if visiting, mum said they kept to the social distancing rules. Mum has been able to take part in a peer support group which now meets in a local park near a café.
Mum talked about how she was able to contact Home-Start when she felt she really needed the help and felt like she was struggling, and they always responded.
“Having someone there that didn’t judge me”
Mum has an older child and a young baby aged 8 months. She has contact with the children’s father.
Mum talked about how her social worker recommended Home-Start as she was struggling in lock-down with a new baby. She needed help with sorting out the house as mum felt unprepared as the baby was due earlier than expected. Home-Start did an initial visit on the doorstep.
“The Home-Start co-ordinator was lovely, so happy and bubbly, it made me feel happy”.
Home-Start then found a volunteer to support mum, at first via Zoom and then meeting face-to-face.
The Home-Start volunteer would ring at the same time every week to have a chat. Mum said:
“During lockdown I became quite lonely, I probably have one friend, but I tend to keep things to myself, I’m on good terms with the father of my children, but I rarely go out and I tend to isolate myself. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Having a chat was lovely. My little one absolutely loves the volunteer. We would chat about anything particularly if I felt out-of-sorts. They were really understanding”.
Mum talked about the practical help that Home-Start provided such as bedding and a bed as well as ordering some storage boxes which were delivered so mum could have a proper sort out in the house.
“The storage boxes have been so useful. Home-Start also researched where I could get help and where to go, they have been great with advice.”
“We never knew about Home-Start before and they do amazing work, having volunteers and helping out in any way they can”.
Mum said that dad is also now receiving support from Home-Start as he also tends to isolate himself and he said how helpful having a male volunteer has been.
“It’s a really good thing to have and we hope Home-Start continues.”
“Knowing that I’ve got someone I can contact”
Lone parent with seven children.
Home-Start have provided emotional support throughout lockdown; at the start:
“Home-Start called every day or near enough, they helped with stuff that I needed for the house, furniture, baby bouncer, paddling pool, things that I needed.”
The Home-Start volunteer speaks to mum on a regular basis and is now able to visit once a week:
“It really helps my mental health, just knowing I’ve got someone around. Their service was the only that carried on during lockdown”.