Name: Home Start Mellow Mums Group
Location: The whole scheme covers over 500 square miles of rural South and West Devon
Staff and volunteers: The rural part of the project is supported by 1 part time coordinator with part-time admin and manager support, 60 volunteers
Contact details: Andrea Chandler, 01548 854513, firstname.lastname@example.org
What is your mission?
Home Start’s vision is that we believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life and that offering practical and emotional support to families experiencing stress is a pro-active and proven method of helping to achieve this. We believe that children and families are at the heart of our rural community. Our one-to-one volunteers visit the family weekly and offer friendship, signposting and support with a view to increasing the families emotional and financial resilience, strengthening networks and promoting independence.
Our overall aims are to increase community activity, build networks, improve lifestyles and reduce isolation and poverty, using a model that fits our rural communities.
The specific aim for the Mellow Mums group is to ensure that vulnerable mums are linked to appropriate support at an early stage in order to reduce any negative impact on their relationship with their children.
What services do you provide?
The Mellow Mums group uses volunteers to support mums pre and post the sessions. There is also a high level of support during the sessions. The sessions are not intended as a substitute for a therapeutic alternative but to provide a safe and supportive space for mums to get support and signposting, and to develop relationships and networks.
Who do you support and what is your impact?
We support families with young children who are experiencing difficulties, and our statistics show a year on year increase in the number of mums who identify isolation, mental health difficulties or depression as an issue. These issues now account for 70% of our referrals.
So far we have completed a two-month post course follow up for one of the Mellow Mums groups and were able to speak to all bar one of the participants. All participants are now attending other mother and baby groups, have remained in contact with each other and met up since the group. One had joined an online mum’s group and another has returned to work and reported feeling more confident. All reported that they felt they had an improved relationship with their children as a result of completing the sessions.
What do service users say?
‘I have enjoyed coming and talking to people with the same problems I have’
‘Nice break and nice to have people to talk to who could help me’
‘I trust the friends I have made in the group’
‘It took my mind off the difficulties at home and I enjoyed the other peoples company’
‘It would have been good if it could have been longer’
‘It was a nice size of group with great people. I am sad it has come to an end’
What do volunteers say?
‘It was lovely to play with the children and see the mums relax and chat’
‘Having the responsibility for the mid-week phone call to a particular mum made me feel much more involved and helped build relationships’
‘The mums really seemed to be getting something from the sessions and they kept coming back’
What do referrers say?
‘We only hosted this course once so far and it has really enabled participants, who initially had not engaged with any of the Children’s Centre activities at all to access relevant support for them and their children’ – Dani de Beaumont, Children’s Services Manager for South Hams Children’s Centres
‘The group encourages the development of attachment between mum and child and we see improvements in this area. Sometimes this attachment can diminish because of the mum’s low mood. The group also helps to signpost mums and children to other services and support locally’ – Health visitor