A volunteer who is raising funds for leading Aberdeen family support charity, Home-Start Aberdeen, is encouraging and seeking others to take part in the virtual Kiltwalk this weekend and help raise vital funds for local families.

The Kiltwalk which had to cancel all of its 2020 events due to the coronavirus pandemic, launched the “virtual” Kiltwalk weekend to be held over three days from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September to give fundraisers an opportunity to get involved in the event and still raise money for charities that need their help.

Home-Start volunteer, Karen Smith who had signed up for the Aberdeen Kiltwalk, due to have been held in June, participated in her own garden challenges until the Kiltwalk could be held. She has raised over £3,000 to support the charity and is now aiming to raise further funds by walking 5 miles along the Aberdeen Kiltwalk route this Sunday 13th September. She will be joined by Donata Beccuti, another Home-Start volunteer and Anastasia Milne, one of the charity’s supported families.

Anastasia and her family first came into contact with Home-Start in 2018, after the birth of her premature son of 28 + 6 weeks. When he was discharged home from the hospital with oxygen support, Anastasia got to the point she realised she could no longer cope on her own.

“Admitting I was depressed and isolated realising that I really needed help and asking for it was the most difficult thing at that moment.

“My health visitor told me about Home-Start and I had no idea how my life would change for the better. I received not only support, but also real care. Home-Start helped me in many aspects, I took a cooking course, a course in baby massage, our son attended a group for mothers and children, where I could happily watch his development and acquire communication skills with other children. I met other wonderful mums, amazing Home-Start workers and absolutely brilliant volunteers who are doing such a tremendous job of helping and supporting us all.

“Thanks to Home start, I realised that it is absolutely normal to ask for help when you are in a difficult situation and how wonderful it is to realise that there are people who are always ready to help and offer support.

“My kids and I have taken part in the Kiltwalk for several years, which gives us the opportunity not only for an active lifestyle, but also to support Home-Start and give something back.”

Donations towards their fundraising target can be made here: https://aberdeenkiltwalk2020.everydayhero.com/uk/karen-12

The money Karen has already raised has helped to support the running of a weekly virtual group Rising Stars which has connected families, volunteers and staff to take part remotely in activities such as arts and crafts, songs and rhymes, books and stories.

“These sessions have been a life line to families struggling to cope.
“We have been able to provide families with resources to allow them to fully participate in the group, including craft and activity packs, food and recipes for cooking sessions as well as books for shared reading sessions.

“As well as sessions for the whole family, we have run sessions specifically for parents. The main focus of these sessions have been for parents to support and learn from each other, sharing their experiences and challenges, said Eleanor McEwan, general manager.
“Over the virtual weekend we’re inviting you to get your tartan on and take on any Kiltwalk inspired challenge you wish from home. Go for a walk of any length you wish, cycle or even jump on a trampoline. It can be anything,” added Eleanor.

The charity has been provided with 20 free places by The Royal Bank of Scotland and places are still available for anyone wanting to register and fundraise for Home-Start Aberdeen. Registering will enable any funds raised to receive a 50% top up from The Hunter Foundation, helping the charity to support more families with young children in Aberdeen who need help.

Anyone interested in registering to take part on behalf of the charity should get in touch with fundraising volunteer Karen Smith at fundraiser@homestartaberdeen.org.uk
For over 30 years the charity has been supporting vulnerable families across the city to prevent family crisis and breakdown. This support is usually provided via a home-visiting service where carefully selected and trained volunteers are there for families, visiting them in their own homes with compassionate, confidential help.

COVID-19 has meant that the charity has had to adapt how it delivers its services to the families (over 200 adults and children) it supports. These young families have at least one child under the age of five and are typically affected by social isolation, bereavement, relationship problems, illness, disability and financial hardship.