Home-Start Horizons: ... Because childhood cannot wait!
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The past year has seen Home-Start Horizons come out of the pandemic, from supporting families primarily virtually, due to the extensive lockdowns in and around Leicester, to face to face working. We are now back to full group capacity with 10 family support groups operating across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Our face to face, home-visiting support resumed slowly from the end of 2021.Over the past year we have provided over 12,000 hours of volunteer support, contributing over £175k in social value to support vulnerable families.
What we have seen, coming out of the pandemic, with families returning to group, has been concerning. Staff supporting families saw worrying increases in need and complexity of need. Whilst pre-pandemic around 2/3 of families referred suffered with their mental health, this figure had reached almost 73% of families referred.
Social isolation and anxiety, natural results of a worldwide pandemic and lockdowns, were afflicting so many more families. Poverty, resulting from job losses, furlough, cost of living increases was affecting so many - whilst HSH can do fantastic work with families to support an array of needs, when a family cannot afford to live and often has to choose between eating and heating, the work we do cannot address this pillar of wellbeing. Families we have traditionally supported are now facing additional challenges, particularly around cost of living and we are also seeing many more families that now do have support needs.
One of our biggest successes has been the continued development of our mums In Mind (MIMs) post-natal illness support programme. MIMs is a 7 week programme for Mums and their families, affected by post-natal illness. We delivered virtual sessions throughout the lockdowns and are now back to delivering several face-to-face programmes over the year. The MIMs programme fills a significant gap in provision for Mums suffering and is a lifeline for them and for Health Visitors, who tell us more provision is needed. One of our recently supported Mums said, "I cried in every single one of my MIMS sessions and felt relieved to be able to say the most dreadful of things about being a mummy and having a daughter, all without judgement, not a single 'perfect' mummy in sight. We cried together, broke down together and listened to each other's darkest of days together but most of all, all 5 of us overcame our demons and to this day have stayed friends"
We are seeking to sustain our MIMs programme over the coming few years. Any contribution to this from the Foundation would be very much welcomed.