Charitable Work

Government Support For Our Charitable Work

HRH Duchess of Cambridge at Home-Start

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge learns more about Home-Start and our support for children and families.

We are proud of our charitable work and long working relationship with Central Bedfordshire Council and before its abolition in 2009; Bedfordshire County Council.

We have been successful in delivering early intervention support to families with at least one child under the age of five for over 30 years and are a preferred provider for early intervention and child poverty for the council.

Our core charitable work is achieved through managing trained volunteers who visit referred families on a weekly basis for around two to nine months depending on the needs of the family in order to achieve a set of outcomes.

Families are predominantly defined as Early Help but we also work with more complex families such as children in need and children subject to a child protection plan, working in partnership with other agencies.

“Support for children and families in NE Bedfordshire comes from many organisations, one being Home-Start Central Bedfordshire in my constituency. HSCB have grown and flourished for many years and I know are not only a lifeline for many families but also an excellent model of volunteer training and development.
I am delighted that the scheme continues to develop and embrace new ways of working with families, and I know what an impact the staff and volunteers have on families and children in my constituency. I cannot commend them highly enough for their excellent work.” – Alistair Burt MP, North East Bedfordshire

Our charitable work and support given is tailored to the family’s individual needs and circumstances. This includes:

  • Emotional support to help parents find ways to manage and resolve problems.
  • Direct support to children, including playing, listening, having fun, establishing feeding routines, encouraging development and providing opportunities for outings and treats.
  • Practical help, such as budgeting, nutrition and meal planning, cooking and making the home safe.
  • Support and encouragement to attend other services such as Children’s Centres.
  • Information and links to other organisations, including health and educational services.
  • Advocacy and support, for example in dealing with solicitors and court cases.
  • Access to parenting advice and parenting skills training.

See our charity’s latest news for updates on our work in the community.

Andrew Selous Supports Home-Start Charitable WorkLinda Johnson, Home-Start Central Bedfordshire CEO meets MP Andrew Selous.

Key Facts About Our Charitable Work

Home-Start offers not only excellent value for money but generates long-term savings as well as improving lives for local families and children.

Key points:

  • Home-Start’s charitable work in the county is excellent value for money. The cost to support a family = £16 per week.
  • Since our charity first formed in 1984, we have supported over 3448 families with over 6829 children through 1760 volunteers.
  • Last year we supported 391 families, which included 801 children through our team of 117 parent volunteers*
  • At the end of support, 95% of families reported that the outcomes identified had been achieved*
  • We are able to reach families who are socially excluded and who will not engage with other services such as Children’s Centres.
  • We have over 30 years experience in recruiting, training, supervising and managing volunteers.
  • Our volunteers are trained and managed to a high standard of professionalism.
  • Our services are rigorously quality assured through a Charity Commission endorsed system.
  • Volunteering with us helps get people into work. One third of our volunteers returned to employment last year*

* For the 2017 period.

Why We Believe in Early Intervention

“Preventative services can do more to reduce abuse and neglect than reactive services.” – Prof Eileen Munro, The Munro Report into Child Protection 2011.

Central Bedfordshire Children's CharityPOSED BY MODELS

Early intervention forms the foundation of our charitable work and measurable success. Early Intervention addresses the root causes of social disadvantage, enabling children to flourish and preventing harmful and costly long-term outcomes. 

Effective and timely early intervention prevents problems escalating and breaks intergenerational patterns of disadvantage and dysfunction. It also frees up agencies under pressure, such as Social Care, and prevents children from being taken into care with the subsequent poor outcomes for the child and the cost to local councils.

Late intervention has been proven to be not only expensive but also not an effective use of money as lives are rarely turned around.

Other Services Our Charity Has Provided

Over the years we have also been asked to deliver additional services to our charitable work in the county. Central Bedfordshire Council has contracted our charity to deliver these services in response to the council’s priorities. This includes:

Post Natal Depression Support Groups 

These ran at five Children’s Centres across Central Bedfordshire. 1 in 10 women experience post natal depression and/or anxiety. The groups, run by a trained facilitator helped women to learn and put in practice coping strategies for mental ill health, to reduce isolation and increase social support networks. The groups ran for five years and supported over 200 women.

Domestic Abuse Charitable Work

Pattern Changing – Domestic Abuse

Pattern Changing is a ten-week course for women who have experienced domestic abuse.

The course helps women regain confidence and self-esteem, explore personal experiences and learn practical strategies to gain empowerment and to change negative patterns of behaviour into positive ones.

The course is free and a free crèche is provided. Topics covered are:

  • Your human rights
  • The impact of a difficult childhood
  • Living with abuse and why it is hard to leave
  • Exploring relationships with children and young people
  • Anger, guilt and grief
  • Assertiveness
  • Boundary setting
  • Healthy relationships
  • Future goal setting

“The course changed my life and gave me strength and belief in myself.”

Big Hopes Big Future

Big Hopes, Big Future is an evidence-based school readiness programme that actively engages parents in their children’s early learning, supporting them to create a positive home learning environment for children and helping children fulfil their potential at nursery or school – and in later life.

BHBF uses parent volunteers to provide one to one support to families in the home supporting children in the years prior to nursery and primary school and targeting the most disadvantaged families including those who currently do not readily engage with their children’s early learning.

Specially trained Big Hopes Big Future volunteers:

  • Help parents develop their children’s early learning – through play, reading, games and fun activities
  • Support parents to create a positive home learning environment for their children and encourage good behaviour and routines
  • Encourage parents to engage with other appropriate services, such as children’s centres, schools, nurseries and specialist support where appropriate
  • Embed learning carried out in external settings (e.g. children’s centres/nurseries) in the home
  • Help children and parents prepare for and manage the transitions into nursery and school
  • Identify and support parents’ own learning needs

The BHBF programme focuses on the following areas:

  • Home readiness
  • Availability of stimulating materials in the home
  • Establishing routines
  • Parental readiness
  • Able to engage with their child’s development
  • Able to cope with their child being away from them
  • Able to access appropriate services from children’s centres, schools, nurseries and childcare professionals

Child readiness

  • Arrive at school fed and on time
  • Play and share with other children
  • Use the toilet and understand simple hygiene
  • Dress and put on shoes
  • Eat and drink unaided
  • Cope away from their parent(s)
  • Recognise own name

Autism & Adhd Charitable Work184 families were supported by the Bedfordshire Autism & ADHD Toolkit.

Bedfordshire Autism and ADHD Toolkit

The partnership project with the charity Outside-iN was developed in order to meet the needs of families with children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or ADHD.

Since every child and family is unique there is not one single approach that suits everyone. We therefore put together a range of services which we called Tools that families could move between and could access more than one service at a time. The tools included home visiting volunteer support, a helpline, support groups, one to one coaching and parenting and condition awareness courses.

During the two years that the project ran 184 families were helped and parents reported that they valued the Toolkit approach.

Poverty Reduction programmes:

Volunteer Workforce Development programme

This was a series of workshops to assist people with the skills needed to get into work. Topics covered included CV writing and interview skills, information about benefits. Attendees were also informed about volunteering as a way of acquiring confidence and experience in order to move into employment or further education.

Home-Start Plus Project

Home-Start Plus had an accompanying website containing money saving advice and ideas.

Home-Start Plus

This project aimed to help reduce child poverty in Central Bedfordshire by providing money saving workshops combined with a website.

The workshops looked at the effect of marketing and covered such topics as low/no cost toys and activities for children, up-cycling furniture and clothes, budgeting and cooking on a budget.

“Cheap, easy and affordable ideas which I can now do with my children.”

“I have learnt loads of ways to save money. I would always throw clothes away before but now I will be thinking what I can do with them.”

Drug-proofing Your Kids Parenting Programme

This was delivered for two years in 2007/8 to a variety of groups and parents. The programme concentrates on the role parents can play in reducing the risk of harmful drug use, giving skills and knowledge to assist parents in talking to their children about making good choices.

Other projects that we have delivered through grants and trust funding or donations are:

Freedom Programme Domestic Abuse

Freedom Programme

We set up and ran Freedom Programme in Leighton Buzzard for five years as a response to the number of referrals that we received where domestic abuse was an issue.

The programme provides information for victims of domestic abuse and examines the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors.

Working with Travellers

We delivered training and awareness workshops to professionals in Central Bedfordshire in partnership with Leighton Buzzard Children’s Centre.

This included the development of a DVD of interviews with various members of the traveller community.

Maximising Income Project

This was in partnership with Child Poverty Action Group and Turn2Us

A team of trained volunteers checked that families were accessing the correct benefits and applied to grants and trust funds for needed articles.

Family Group

The Leighton Buzzard Family Group was funded by BBC Children in Need.

Family Group

A group for vulnerable families in Leighton Buzzard.

We were grateful to BBC Children in Need for funding our charitable work with this group for seven years. The group provided a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable parents and children. The aims of the group were to:

  • Reduce isolation for parents and children.
  • Reduce parental stress with resulting impact on the well-being of the child.
  • To encourage parental personal development.
  • To improve parenting skills.
  • To increase attachment between parents and children.
  • To signpost and increase access to others agencies such as the Children’s Centres.

Central Bedfordshire Council, Leighton Linslade Town Council, Children In Need

Central Bedfordshire Council, Leighton Linslade Town Council, Children In Need

Home-Start Central Bedfordshire. A charitable company limited by guarantee. Registered in England and Wales, registered charity no. 1109262. Company Reg No. 5414484.