Homestart Bristol – The Charity I support and Why

Homestart Bristol

When I became a father I felt very privileged, not just because my son seemed so perfect nor because he had two of everything he should have two of. It was because I found myself in the enviable position of being able to take the year off, as did his Mum. My finances took a massive hit and I guess my career did a bit too, but the time was magical and if possible I’d recommend it to anyone. No amount of cash will buy that time again.

On the flip side, despite the fact there were two of us, both chipping in, it was still quite hard. It seemed like Loki didn’t stop crying for the first three months. This sounds like a contradiction, how can it be magical AND hard but this was my first parenting lesson it just is!

This experience gave me some new found respect to those parents bring up children on their own, or who have great financial hardships, or who have a partner who works long hours. Especially in the first few years of the child’s life.

Homestart Volunteer
Homestart Volunteer – Sometimes its just about creating fun times

For some of these families things can just get too much for them and this is when problems can arise. This is where charities such as Bristol Homestart come in. Set up in Leicester in 1973, Homestart has been described as a home-visiting scheme which offers support, friendship, and practical assistance to young families experiencing difficulties. Homestart is a remarkable charity as the home visitors are all volunteers selflessly giving their time. There are no contracts, no time limits and the visits are on the terms of the family.

It is this time that they give that helps to take the stress out of family life, even just being there and offering emotional support can take away the sense of isolation that many struggling parents can feel. Homestart volunteers can also help with some of the practical things like integrating into a community. To people new to the country this can mean helping with finding doctors and dentists for others its finding other services in the area that they may not be aware of, or even finding groups to help connect with other parents. Homestart volunteers report back that they real do feel appreciated by the families and they get a lot back. Some become life long friends with the families they support.

Of course Homestart volunteers don’t just turn up at the house of a struggling family. They need to be trained first, then volunteers are matched with a family. There are a host of people busy behind the scenes ensuring that the operation runs as smoothly as possible. The structure of the more than 300 Homestart branches are different but in Bristol a group of Trustees all give there time for free, there are paid admin staff and ongoing supervision and training is need for the trustees and volunteers all of this is funded by donations and grants. It’s an invaluable service paid for by generosity.

Perhaps your generosity could help too? To find out about volunteering or to donate please visit If you needed a little more encouragement then have a browse at this study as it might just prolong your life!

There will also be a breakfast event to celebrate family life. This will be held in three locations in Bristol over 2 days.

The Home-Start Bristol FamilyBreakfast!

Let someone else prepare your breakfast for a change! Join us for the morning of the 13th or 14th July. Feed the animals, meet live creepy crawlies, go  foraging and learn about seed planting. There will be story telling and colouring….and much much more family fun at our 3 great venues across Bristol.  

Sunday 13th July

Duchess of Totterdown Café, Wells Road – 10am-12 midday

Join us for reasonably priced tea/coffee or an ‘extra     special breakfast’ (breakfast shaped like smiles). The Bug Man will be calling in with his creepy crawlies for children to see and touch! … and Andy Hamilton (me) will take a short family foraging walk.

Monday 14th July

Windmill Hill Farm 9.00 -11.30am

Pop down to the farm – feed the animals, follow the farm trail and learn about seed planting. Children can enjoy story telling and colouring while parents can enjoy a free tea/coffee.

Monday 14th July

St Werburgh’s Farm 9am-12 midday

9am – join the farm manager as he gives the animals their breakfast, then retire to the café to enjoy a family   breakfast. Children In Need’s very own Pudsey Bear will be visiting us between 9am -10.30am— have your photo taken with him. At 11am our famous forager Andy Hamilton will lead a group forage!

 Big Breakfast Leaflet