With around 180 branches across the UK, Home-Start can offer assistance to parents when they need it most. Supporting more than 25,000 families and 46,000 children, the charity helps those struggling with postnatal depression, isolation, physical health problems, bereavement and many other issues.

Home-Start volunteers can spend around two hours a week in your home, providing support tailored to your needs.

Army spouse Lauren, whose daughter Layla has learning disabilities, told us how she was encouraged to contact her local Home-Start in Portsmouth by a specialist community nurse, after confessing to being anxious when leaving the house.

“Layla’s diagnosis gave us the means of getting her the right care, but it also meant I couldn’t return to work,” says Lauren. “I’d always paid my way, so it was hard to go down to being a one-wage family and being at home one-on-one with Layla all day, every day.”

Getting out

Lauren was introduced to John, her Home-Start volunteer, who she says has been a breath of fresh air. “Straight away he encouraged me to take Layla out,” she explains. “He’s so laid back and patient. Layla doesn’t make eye contact with people she doesn’t feel safe with, but she will engage with John.

“He has helped me not to worry what other people are thinking. He said if Layla has a meltdown in public, people won’t be judging, more likely they’ll be thinking ‘we’ve all been there’. Before John came into our lives I found taking Layla to the park really hard. When it was time to go home she’d start hitting and kicking me. John’s shown me how to keep calm and that has really helped me to manage her behaviour. We’re so lucky to have him.

“Home-Start has made such a difference to our lives. They’ve directed us to groups too and they’ve given me confidence as a mum.”

Find out more

Each Home-Start is an independent charity, reliant on local funding to carry out their work. It recently launched its Cost-of-Living Crisis Appeal to provide families with the practical, compassionate and emotional support they need – go to home-start.org.uk to find out more.

Main photo: Lauren, Layla and Will