Welsh charity, Home-Start Cymru, recently welcomed Welsh Government Welsh Deputy Minister for Mental Health & Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle MS and Welsh Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS to their Pontypridd office to find out about the work of the organisation.

The Deputy Ministers met with some of Home-Start Cymru’s volunteers and staff, as well as families who have been supported by the service, to hear about the issues of concern to parents and the services available through the charity.

During the visit, Home-Start Cymru staff, volunteers and parents gave insights into the impact of the support on local families and the crucial importance of the relationship that forms between a volunteer and a family, which lies at the heart of positive and lasting change. The careful matching process staff undertake when connecting a volunteer and a family was highlighted as a crucial part of the service.

They also met with Bethan Webber, CEO, Catriona Williams, Trustee, Meirwen Jones, Head of Operations and Jo Ford, Locality Manager.

The Deputy Ministers also had the chance to speak to Emma Daniels, and Esther Winter, accompanied by her 8-month-old twins, two parents who’ve benefited from the support of a Home-Start Cymru volunteer.

Bethan Webber, Chief Executive of Home-Start Cymru, said: “We were delighted to welcome Lynne Neagle MS and Julie Morgan MS to our Pontypridd facility; it was a great opportunity for our staff, volunteers and families to share their experiences and show the impact that Home-Start Cymru makes to the lives of families.”

Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Social Services, said : “It was very rewarding to meet the people behind the charity and speak directly with families who have their own unique connections to Home-Start Cymru. Plus, hear how they and other families in the community have been supported.”

Lynne Neagle, Deputy Minister for Mental Health & Wellbeing, said : “I was delighted to see the excellent facilities at Home-Start Cymru Pontypridd and hear from the volunteers at the heart of their mission. I was heartened to learn about the important role Home-Start Cymru plays for families in communities across Wales.”

Joanne Ford, one of Home-Start Cymru’s locality managers, explains how the charity’s volunteers provide help to families for two to three hours a week, including emotional support and practical help, including signposting, for as long as is needed.

She said: “Sometimes being a parent can be difficult for all sorts of reasons. If there are no close family members or friends to turn to, it can be even tougher.”

“In many cases, our trained volunteers used to be parents themselves, so they understand what it’s like. They are there to offer a friendly helping hand and advice to a family with young children.”

That support is provided by a volunteer; someone giving their time to help a family when they need it most is incredibly powerful.

Home-Start Cymru and its volunteers have supported over 800 families in the last year, offering to befriend and support families experiencing difficulties. Their support covers 18 local authority areas across Wales and they are always looking for new volunteers to help them continue to support families.