More new and expectant parents in Gloucestershire are to benefit from emotional and practical support with the challenges of parenthood thanks to half a million pounds of National Lottery Community funding.

Home-Start Gloucestershire, a consortium of three local Home-Start schemes, secured the funding last week, and plans to use it to expand its services across the county, supporting more parents who are going through challenging times.

Emma Desjardins, Scheme Manager at Home Start North and West Gloucestershire, said:“We are thrilled to have been successful with our bid! This will really help us to transform the lives of lots of families in Gloucestershire.

Being a parent can be very difficult, especially when children are young. Many parents feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the stresses of family life, and some parents can really struggle if they are coping with issues such as post-natal depression, their own or their child’s illness or disability, isolation or multiple births.

In these circumstances, we can offer a unique service to families. The non-judgmental emotional and practical support of our volunteers helps parents to build confidence, improve wellbeing and build resilience, which in turn helps to give children the best start in life.

This funding will really help us over the next three years. However, we continue to rely on volunteers and fundraising, without which we couldn’t offer the same support to families. We are always grateful for support from individuals or companies who are able to give up time or raise funds to support our work – please keep this coming.”

Home-Start offers a range of services to help parents develop a loving bond with their child and create a calm, safe, predictable home environment where children can learn and flourish. These services include home-visits, post-natal and ante-natal support groups, groups for mothers experiencing mental health difficulties and support for fathers.

Over the past year, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group has also given Home-Start financial support to recruit and train volunteers and to set up ‘Mothers in Mind’ and ‘Bump and Best Start’ groups across the county.

Dr Jeremy Welch, GP and Clinical Lead for Maternity Services, Children and Young People at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning said:

“Making things better for new parents and families is one of our key priorities.

This funding boost is fantastic news; offering this kind of support, friendship and practical help is a simple, but effective way of helping families grow in confidence and get back on track. It can make a real difference to the lives of their children both now and in the future.”

Tracey, who received support from Home-Start Stroud and is now a volunteer, said:

“I was lucky enough to receive excellent support from Home-Start when my daughter was just over a year old. I was a single older parent living with chronic illness, severe anxiety and depression; my daughter’s needs were always met but as a Mum I was barely surviving.

Home-Start encouraged and enabled me to access the specialist Mental Health Therapy I so desperately needed, supported my family by providing a regular Home-Start Volunteer and introduced me to the Mother in Mind (MIM) group in Stroud.

This gave me the confidence to register for the volunteer training and I am now MIM Peer Support Volunteer. Volunteering has given me a new purpose in life and helped me refine my happiness in living. It feels good to help others, I have expanded my friendships and social network, and I love giving a few hours of my free time back to the charity that helped my family so much.”

The funding will see the charity’s support extend to all areas of Gloucestershire.