A leading family support charity in Aberdeen is encouraging parents with young children to reach out and ask for help if they need it. The charity wants to raise awareness that it’s ok to need help and that they are ‘only a phone call away’ to provide support for those who need it.

Home-Start Aberdeen is concerned the continued impact of covid-19 on everyday life, isolation, poor mental health and job losses may be pushing many more families to breaking point.

Home-Start Aberdeen has operated in the city for over 30 years supporting struggling families, who have at least one child under the age of 5. It works to build strong families and happy children in local communities through the provision of trained, supportive volunteers who assist families with young children, helping them to deal with challenges they face.

Jean Mowat who has been a Home-Start volunteer for 4 years shared: “Families from all walks of life face challenges where they feel they can’t cope. This can be particularly hard with young children and we’re there for them, parents and children, when they need us the most. We know it’s been even harder this year with difficult challenges exaggerated by the pandemic. It’s ok to need help, and it’s certainly ok to ask for it.

“As volunteers, we’re just ordinary people with life experience, ready, able and wanting to help. We have no judgement, just compassion, a listening ear and a helping hand.

“I’ve supported a number of families now, all who have faced different challenges. I’ve been able to provide a safe space at times of real need and be there as a regular contact, someone to trust and help during difficult times. I love the bond that I’ve formed with my families, especially the little ones who often refer to me as ‘Grandma Jean’.”

The charity’s support provides crucial help for struggling young families who are typically affected by social isolation, bereavement, relationship problems, illness, disability and financial hardship, all of which can have a direct and considerable impact on mental wellbeing.

Anastasia Milne and her family first came into contact with Home-Start after the birth of her premature son. 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,” said Anastasia. 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. Thanks to them and my volunteer, I realised that it’s absolutely normal to ask for help when you are in a difficult situation and how wonderful it is that there are people who are always ready to help and offer support.”

Although the charity receives referrals from health visitors and other family channels, if you have a child under five and are based in the city, you can self-refer to seek help and support.

If you’re struggling to cope and think you and your family could benefit from the charity’s service, you can contact the Home-Start Aberdeen team on 01224 693545, email admin@homestartaberdeen.org.uk or visit the website for more information at www.homestartaberdeen.org.uk