Home-Start started in 1973. Our founder, Margaret Harrison, believed that supporting a family was best done in the family home where it can be shaped to the strengths and needs of individual families and away from the perceived judgement of others. She felt that support and friendship from another parent or carer would be the best way to equip families with the confidence to face the many challenges life can bring and to give their children the best possible start to their lives.
This idea that started in Margaret’s hometown of Leicester soon spread across the UK and we now have over 180 Local Home-Starts who are alongside families in homes and hearts across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, plus in Cyprus with families in the armed forces. Margaret remained life president of Home-Start until her death in 2015.
Our distinctive offer
While volunteer home visiting remains at the core of Home-Start’s work, we have also established new ways of helping parents and their children, meeting the changing needs of families. We have developed group work, focussed provision in thematic areas such as perinatal mental health, long term mental health conditions, financial difficulty and domestic abuse, and are involved in many community partnerships to ensure integrated support for families.
Everything we do forms a part of our distinctive Home-Start offer which remains constant and can be summarised as being relational and community-centred.
Home-Start’s work is relational
• Home-Start is invited into the homes and lives of families with young children. Working with Home-Start is a voluntary mutual relationship for families, on their terms.
• We are trusted by families to provide non-judgemental, caring support. We stand alongside parents in the challenges they face.
• The empathy and experience of volunteers builds credibility and trusted relationships with parents
• By working early in the relationship between parents, children and the whole family, our work can have a direct impact on improving outcomes for children and for parents.
• We are deeply committed to the communities we are part of. Our work is locally designed and developed so that we can be flexible and respond to the strengths, assets and needs of different communities.
• Our community focus ensures our work is inclusive and accessible for families whatever their form, makeup and however they were created.
• We are community-centred in the partnerships we build with other local services, funders and corporate organisations to support families and children.
• Our Home-Start network is also a community – a national federation which enables us to share learning, support quality and innovation, raise our profile and attract resources.
Our underpinning values
Margaret Harrison talked fondly of three underpinning values to Home-Start: humanity, humility and humour. These are the values through which we build trusted relationships with families and each other.
• Humanity: We see each other as individual people and our approach is based on the fundamental human qualities of relationship, inclusion, kindness and compassion.
• Humility: We know that it takes a village to raise a child. We seek to work in partnership as peers to build on the inherent strengths and capabilities in people, families, communities and organisations.
• Humour: In the face of challenges in life, we approach our relationships with an aim to find joy, playfulness and fulfilment from our connected journey.
These words might not sound like an average set of organisational values – but they do feel very much like us at Home-Start!
Our work is built from four core beliefs about the rights of families. It is important to us to maintain these as we pursue our work.
• Parents, children, and families are central to their own development. A whole family,
compassionate approach should stand alongside families in supporting them to
• Every family should have a safe place to call home, an income that keeps them out of poverty,
and access to health, care and welfare. The absence of any of these things undermines a
family’s capacity to thrive.
• Every family should have access to the support they need, when they need it, and they should
have a voice in shaping this support. Preventative work and early access to the right support is the best way to achieve the best long-term wellbeing for children, young people and their families.
• All children and families should know and enjoy their fundamental rights and should never be subjected to discrimination. Attitudinal and structural barriers that prevent this should be identified and challenged.