Home-Start Merton is affiliated to Home-Start UK, the national organisation. We are a voluntary organisation with charity status. We offer parent-to-parent support to families with children pre-birth to age 5-years-old. Our team of volunteers are supervised by our trained co-ordinators. We understand that life can be difficult and offer a non-judgmental service.
Our volunteers are parents themselves, who receive extensive training and undertake an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring service). Our volunteers visit a family within their own home to offer support. This may include emotional support, help to access medical appointments, signposting services, accessing other services within the borough, i.e. children’s centres, or groups, an extra pair of hands at home or enjoying local parks or libraries.
We also run a multiple birth group at Christchurch Hall in Colliers Wood where parents are offered peer support. We also run programmes for families which include, Cook & Eat, The CHEW project (Children Eating Well), smoking cessation sessions and Money for Life. We signpost families to other support within the borough when it is needed
Who to contact
- The Chaucer Centre
- SM4 6PX
Detailed Local Offer
- 1. Aims of the service
Our service aims to provide parents and children with the tools to be able to cope on a day to day basis. Our volunteers are parents themselves and some have children with SEND. Parents value this type of support as they feel that having someone to listen to and provide those much needed extra pair of hands, allows them precious time. Our volunteers do not look after children without the parent; they do not provide a babysitting service or respite care. Our ethos is to work with the parent and child. The volunteer is able to support parents to attend medical appointments and is able to wait with the children in the waiting area.
Home-Start Merton offer other services for parents; as an example we run smoking cessation information and guidance, which includes support whilst giving up smoking, Cook & Eat programmes-learning new healthy and value for money recipes, The CHEW project – children eating well, Money for Life project – budgeting, debt management, shopping on a low income, best deals in supermarkets and what are the hidden deals and how to prevent negative lending/borrowing
- 2. Location and delivery
Home-Start Merton supports families living in the Borough of Merton. Our home visiting volunteer service is carried out in the family home. The volunteer is able to accompany the parent and child/children to services within the borough. Volunteers may be able to offer support if hospital appointments are out of the borough, which is dependent on their time restraints and with agreement of Home-Start Merton.
- 3. Who the service is for
The service is for parents who have a child 0-11 years that need support and who live in Merton. Parents that live outside of Merton can contact their local Home-Start for support depending on their own criteria. There are over 305 schemes in the borough and 18 overseas schemes.
- 4. Accessibility
Families are visited in their own homes for 2-4 hours one day a week. The family support co-ordinators, who manage the volunteer and oversee the support for the family will visit the family at home to discuss progress and if there are new needs.
- 5. Opening times and availability
Our opening hours are Monday-Friday 9 am -5 pm and we are open all year except bank holidays. We offer support as long as there is a need and empower parents to be able to manage on a day to day basis without support. We do not time limit our work. We do have some volunteers that can support parents throughout the school holidays and recognise that the school holidays can be particularly difficult for parents. We do not provide emergency care or crisis intervention; however, if an issue arises we can sometimes put alternative support in place. As an example we may be able to offer an alternative volunteer for an emergency. We sometimes have a waiting list but try hard not to. Our waiting list policy states that any family waiting for 3 months will be closed and the family informed. However, we always strive to look for alternative agency support if we do not have the resources
- 6. How to start using the service
There are different ways to access the service. If you are already working with another agency they will need to make a referral on your behalf, details can be found on our website. www.homestartmerton.co.uk. If you do not have another service in place you can self-refer by calling the office on 02086466044. The scheme manager will look at each case on an individual basis and if appropriate she will allocate to one of our family support co-ordinators. The co-ordinator will call the family and have a brief discussion over the telephone and they will arrange a mutually convenient appointment to meet with the family at home to discuss how we can best support you.
- 7. Measuring our performance
We have stringent monitoring and evaluation systems in place, which operate from the outset of our work with families. Home-Start UK’s MESH system (monitoring and evaluation system, Home-Start). We are also monitored and inspected every three years by Home-Start UK’s.
From the first initial visit the family support co-ordinator has with the parent, a service plan will be created with the co-ordinator and parent will discuss the family’s needs and how, with the support of the volunteer, we will help the parent to meet the outcomes for the child. The needs are assessed every 4-6 weeks with the parent and co-ordinator to monitor progress. The parent, volunteer and co-ordinator will review the service plan, which gives an opportunity to review progress and record additional needs that may arise.
- 8. Quality assurance
To ensure consistency of governance, operation and management within each locally based scheme, Home-Start UK developed a bespoke system based on the Home-Start written agreement, acceptance which is a requirement of all schemes and Home-Start UK. Working with Charities Evaluation Services (CES) the Home-Start quality assurance system was introduced in 2005 and incorporates elements of PQASSO (CES’s) quality assurance system for small organisations and recognised as the industry standard in the voluntary sector. Every 3 years Home-Start UK undertake a review to verify self-assessments, audit policies and procedures, test work processes which inform action plans and the final report. During the review face to face interviews are held with families, volunteers, referrers, staff and trustees which enables users to influence the future development of the scheme.
Home-Start Merton is committed to high standards of practice for all aspects of our work with families. The trustees of Home-Start Merton verses the work of the organisation to ensure that it is efficient, equitable and effective. To meet it’s legal and financial responsibilities the full board meet every 6-8 weeks, and in addition sub groups meet to take lead responsibility for specific areas.
- 9. How we capture and use information to improve our service
The co-ordinator will visit the family at home to carry out regular reviews of progress. This gives the parents and children an opportunity to communicate to us how they feel the support is helping. At the point of closing a family we provide the volunteer, referrer (if there is one) and the family with an evaluation form. This data is collated and used to make improvements to our service.
- 10. Staffing
Our scheme has 8 Trustees who oversee the governance of Home-Start Merton and are responsible for ensuring the scheme operates to a high standard. The manager is full time and is responsible for the day to day running of the scheme and she line manages all the staff. Two family support co-ordinators work 28 hours a week Tuesday to Friday 9 am -5 pm. Another family support co-ordinator works 20 hours and supports the families who self-refer and families who are considered to have less need. She is also the group worker for our multiple birth group. Our administrator works 28 hours Monday to Thursday 9 am to 5 pm except Wednesdays when she leaves at 3pm.
Our volunteers work within the home and the parents will always be required to be present. Our multiple birth group, for twins and triplets, is attended by the parent and child. We also have 3-4 volunteers that help out in the group
- 11. Staff training
The group worker and administrator are first aid trained. All staff and volunteers attend Home-Start’s safeguarding training and attend a refresher every three years. The staff access the London Borough of Merton’s safeguarding training. All staff and volunteers have an enhanced DBS check (Disclosure and Barring service), formerly known as CRB check. Home-Start Merton also has a safer recruitment policy which is adhered to. All volunteers and staff attend an initial training course to ensure they are suitable for the role of supporting families. The staff team have vast experience of working and supporting families with SEND
- 12. Staff qualifications (minimum)
Our staff and volunteers are parents themselves or have experience of working with families in other roles and past employment. Our volunteers come from varied walks of life. Some are retired teachers, health professionals, parents with children with SEND, Nursery Nurses, with others experiencing what it is like to go through difficult issues.
The manager is a trained teacher for adults; one of our co-ordinators is an accredited trainer for Strengthening Families and has experience of working with families where there has been Domestic Abuse. Another co-ordinator has undertaken training for parents with mental health and another co-ordinator runs a Sunday school. Two of the co-ordinators along with the manager have previously been Home-Start Merton volunteers. Our administrator helps run a Rainbows group in the borough.
- 13. Quality assurance standards and membership of regulatory bodies
Our service meets with the Quality & Assurance with Home-Start UK. We are also a member of the Charity commission and Companies House.
- 14. Paying for the service
The London Borough of Merton are our main funders, up until March 2016. We also get funding from trust and private funders. We also fundraise to raise much needed funds. Some of our volunteers donate their expenses back into the scheme. Our service is a free service for parents.
- 15. Who to contact for further information
Please call the office on 02086466044. Our website is www.homestartmerton.co.uk we have a complaints procedure in place and all parents are given this information at the Initial assessment. The manager would be the first person to contact.