Meet Our Volunteers
Read some of the experiences of our volunteers:
Names have been omitted to protect confidentiality.
“From the moment I rang Home-Start Merton to enquire about becoming a volunteer, I was immediately impressed by the friendliness and enthusiasm of the staff.
My training was extremely interesting, informative and fun. Great care was taken to match me with a ‘family’ and it couldn’t be better.
My ‘family’ have become my friends and I so enjoy my weekly visits. Sometimes life is very challenging for them. We talk through the problems and, often using local resources, try to find a solution. Quite often, just chatting helps enormously. We also have a lot of fun together, taking the children out and watching their progress both at school and home.
I have also learnt a huge amount about a different culture and the cooking is superb! I hope my involvement is making a difference to a very deserving family – it’s certainly made a difference to me!”
“What have I learned from my experiences as a volunteer?
If you fix the source of the problem, there is a positive ripple effect on the secondary problems, eg. Fix the debt and the relationships improve. Encouraging people to believe in themselves by demonstrating and reminding them of all the things they are getting right (lets face it everyone else tells them about all the things they are getting wrong!). There’s always a way to leave the status quo behind, to improve things.
So what’s in it for me? Selfish question I know, but to stay motivated there has to be a return somewhere. I feel great! I’ve actually helped two families to improve their lives. . . that must be worth the few hours of my time each week.”
“I’ve been a volunteer with Home-Start Merton for around 18 months now. I joined because I know how lucky I am with my life and I wanted to make a difference to someone else. It’s easy to put coins in charity collection boxes, but it isn’t satisfying; and you don’t really believe your contribution will really change much. Why Home-Start? I wanted front line, hands-on, immediate access to a charity where my input would be measured and hopefully respected and appreciated Why me? What I lack in professional qualifications I make up in organisational and practical skills. I guessed the average Home-Start family would find those skills more relevant!
My first family had a relatively low income, and a relatively large debt. As a result of their debt, there was a distrust and a lack of understanding and respect between the couple, bad tempers when dealing with their daughter and the inevitable depression for the mum at home. The family and I worked on drawing up a realistic budget, filled out forms, selected relevant benefits. I also shared with mum coping strategies in terms of eating, sleeping, playtime and generally a routine which they all could keep to. It took 11 months to go from “depressed and in debt” to “happy and confident”. By the time we agreed to leave the family, the mum was working part-time, the daughter was happy at school and eating/sleeping much better too. The dad was much happier because “home” was a happier place to be and everyone’s self-esteem was high.
Every family with Home-Start has their own unique support needs. I went on to support a young couple with learning difficulties, first time parents of a two year old. Much of my time with mum was centred around building her confidence and self esteem and also helping the family access services and benefits. We also spent time cooking low cost, nutritious meals together- it turned out that she was far more capable than she had realised.”
“I enjoy everything about my association with Home-Start Merton. The volunteering course was interesting and all the staff at Home-Start have always been very welcoming and friendly. We have been through a lot together (good and bad) but I have always enjoyed their company. I miss seeing them when we have gaps between visits and I hope that we will always keep in touch. I would say that volunteering for Home-Start has certainly enriched my life.”