Help wanted to provide families a real Start in life

AN APPEAL has been made to help ‘hidden’ people affected by the coronavirus crisis – families in need.

While the headlines centre around the work of the NHS, several in the area have found themselves affected by the lockdown rules.

As well as being short of food and essentials like nappies, incidents of domestic violence are also on the up.

Now HOST has called for donations to help its work stabilise people in crisis and provide extra support.

HOST, which stands for Homestart Oldham, Stockport and Tameside, works with those in need but has found its own efforts impacted by the situation.

Sabine Skarratt from HOST said: “We rely solely on donations. We apply for funds and grants from various bodies and have a crisis fund for this kind of thing, but we’re using that now.

“We’re in crisis mode, responding to families in crisis now.

“There are many local families in need of support already through a rage of social reasons, including domestic violence, poverty, mental health issues and physical/ learning disabilities.

“The covid-19 outbreak has hit our families really hard. Many are struggling to get basic items.

“Any money we receive goes mainly towards helping families getting the essentials, things like getting nappies, baby milk and food.

“Everyone is stepping up but the priority is making sure the families are safe. A lot of them do not fall into the category of needing help from the NHS and could slip through the net.

“There are a lot of vulnerable families in situations like this, we need to support them.”

HOST, which works with about 163 families has found itself operating in a more distant fashion than normal because of social distancing rules.

But do not think that just because they cannot see someone, they cannot help them.

And Sabine believes any funds will go a long way.

She added: “The social distancing regulations have really changed how we interact with families.

“We’ve been providing emotional support remotely; via telephone, text message, WhatsApp and in some cases Facetime or Zoom. We have been working closely with local foodbanks and delivering food parcels and other essential items to the families we support.

“Our Infant Feeding support team are setting up a virtual group via Zoom so that parents or parents-to-be can receive expert and peer support with breastfeeding or mixed feeding methods.

We are also holding volunteer supervision sessions via Zoom to ensure they are getting ongoing support.

“We are currently recording short informative videos, with breastfeeding techniques and an overview of our support services, to find new ways to support families during this time.

“We may be working in a different way but the families still need support, it’s just the added challenge of delivering that support.

“A soon-to-be launched newly branded website will detail exactly what any money donated can mean to someone they are helping.

“Our website aims to be transparent about how we use money donated to support families; through covid-19 and beyond. It’s good for people donating to see exactly where their money is going.

“Any amount would be amazing, whether it’s £1 or £10, as it will all go directly to helping families in need.”

To donate please visit: https://home-starthost.org.uk/donations-urgently-needed/ or call 0161 344 0669.

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