The first three years of a child’s life are crucial for their development and will shape the adult they will become. We aim to help parents to understand their child’s needs and encourage them to be active and engaged in their child’s early development.
Our Early Learning Support for Pre-School Age Children service is provided partly by paid coordinators and also recruits and trains family volunteers to work alongside parents providing regular in-home support to improve parental engagement. Trained volunteers can pass on information about early years, introduce parents to different play ideas, encourage good routines like reading at bed time, discuss and share parent’s concerns and help them to develop stronger relationships with their children. As unpaid volunteers they can develop a non-judgemental relationship with families that encourages trust and helps the families to be more resilient.
By encouraging their involvement in and shaping of their child’s early years’ learning opportunities, we aim to increase parents’ awareness of their child’s development, support them to gather new skills and knowledge of the resources available, and increase confidence in their parenting ability,
Our Family Support Coordinators manage the initial meetings with the family, where a Support Plan is drawn up and agreed on with the family. If the family’s immediate needs are complex the Coordinator will provide the support that is required. Then, when the family are in a place to be effectively supported by a volunteer they will be matched with a befriender.
Family Support Volunteers then visit families in their own homes for 2 hours per week for 12 months, engaging with the children and their parents to improve cognitive and social development of the children. They have access to a range of different age appropriate play and reading materials so that they can make every visit exciting for the children.
The Coordinator meets regularly with the volunteer and then the family to review and adjust the Support Plan.
What is Befriending?
Befriending gives families a supportive, reliable relationship with a volunteer.
Am I eligible?
If you have at least one child of pre-school age or are expecting a baby and live in Edinburgh or Midlothian, you could benefit from the support of a Home Link Family Support Befriender.
What will a befriender do?
Befrienders usually visit a family each week for a couple of hours. They are carefully screened, selected and trained by Home Link Family Support and both Befrienders and families receive ongoing support from our Co-ordinators.
The Co-ordinators will ask you about the kind of help you need. Befrienders can help you in a number of ways:
- Provide a listening ear
- Let you discuss any problems in confidence
- Help you find your feet if you are new to the area
- Help you or your family get out and about
- Give you practical help with the children e.g. at meal times, homework
- Help you to find out about other local services
- Spend time with your children to give you a break
- Help you and your child to have fun with reading and playing
Befrienders usually visit a family once a week for about a year. During this time the Co-ordinator is in regular contact with both the volunteer and the family to make sure they are happy with the way everything is going. You can ask for your Befriender to stop visiting at any stage.
Who are these Befrienders?
Our Befrienders are volunteers of all ages who come from all walks of life. They have chosen to volunteer because they want to help a young family going through a difficult time. They have all undergone our screening process which includes providing references, being police checked and completing our volunteer training course. Befrienders also receive ongoing support from project workers while they are befriending.
How do I get a Befriender?
You can contact us direct, or ask your Health Visitor, Doctor or any professional you work with to make a referral. We will do our best to help you as soon as we can but sometimes there is a waiting list.
The service is FREE!
For general enquiries, please email Sheena Smith or call 0131 661 0890.
To refer a family, please see http://homelinkfamilysupport.org/referral-process.