Home-Start Ripley vows to keep going


A charity which helps struggling families in the Ripley 
area that is facing the axe is hoping to make up a £55,000 funding shortfall through sponsorship. 

Home-Start Amber Valley, based on Wellington Street, supports parents who are having difficulties by sending trained volunteers into their homes. MPs have recently praised Home-Start services for their work.  

The charity has been supported by Derbyshire County Council since it first started 33 years ago, but now faces an uncertain future after the council voted to end its funding from June as it struggles to manage its budget due to cuts in the money it gets from central Government. 

Home-Start chairman Corinne Clemson said: “Before we had to find £12,000 a year, now we have to find £67,000. 

“The only paid members of staff are 1.2 full time equivalent co-ordinators and a part time administrator who run the scheme. 

“They get the referrals, see the parents and find out their needs. They train volunteers and match them with a family. They find people who are compatible and get along. 

“They do review visits. We don’t just assign the volunteers and leave them alone. The co-ordinators see the volunteers at least every 12 weeks. 

“The volunteers visit for a couple of hours every week and provide practical day to day support. 

“A lot of it is about the volunteer being a role model in an informal way. Not teaching people but showing through example, the best way of engaging their child, helping them into good routines and eating habits. Every volunteer is a parent themself.” 

Home-Start Amber Valley also has four trustees from health, business, social work and medical backgrounds

Corinne said: “We are all people who have been involved with children’s services though our careers. We do this to give something back.” 

“We don’t have any well-paid chief executives. The money goes directly into the staff salaries and expenses for the volunteers like travelling and activities. 

“They run trips, and a family support group which meets in Planet Happy on Heage Road on a fortnightly basis.” 

The organisation also runs a project in Ironville called Big Hopes, Big Futures – enabling three sets of parents help their child prepare for school over two terms. 

Corinne said: “The objective is to establish routines, sleeping, meal times, understanding about books and sharing, listening and taking instructions, understand how to make marks on paper - basic skills that enable children to start school. 

“We are one of nine pilots across the country and will be evaluated by the University of Cambridge. 

“Some parents have had a bad experience of school - and we don’t want them to pass that attitude on to their children. 

“It’s not judgmental – its supportive – it’s helping them to do what they want.” 

On Wednesday, March 12, the charity is holding a fashion show at Morley Hayes Golf Club starting at 7pm. 

Tickets are £5. Please contact Home-Start Amber Valley on 01773 746264 if you would like to support the event.

Corinne said: “I understand the council’s difficult situation. We hope at some point in the future to have a relationship with them again. We have bids in preparation and we do get small amounts from local and parish councils and local organisations.

“Home-Start’s next preparation course for volunteers begins in May and June and we are looking for more volunteers, please contact us if you would be interested in this valuable work.”