Home-Start Aberdeen
Annual Report: 2021

Every day, Home-Start Aberdeen makes a difference for families who are struggling to cope.  Our local, trained volunteers provide compassionate, confidential, and life-changing support to help families create a secure, loving home environment where their children can grow up happy, healthy, confident, and able to achieve their full potential. 

Home-Start Aberdeen Chair – Anne MacDonald – and General Manager – Eleanor McEwan – explain how we adapted to a year impacted by COVID-19, pulling together with volunteers, staff, and partners to support families facing crisis and challenge throughout 2020-21. 

Chair Person Report

We continue to provide a valuable lifeline to so many families across Aberdeen City.

Chair's Report

General Manager Report

Being a parent has always been challenging but parenting during a global pandemic was definitely not in the job description!

General Manager's Report

Our impact throughout 2020-21

Families Supported

Children Supported


Volunteer Hours


of families who needed help with parenting skills told us our support had helped with this.


said we had helped with parental wellbeing.


said we had helped with children’s wellbeing.


said we had helped improve family management.

Crisis Support

During 2020-21 we responded to 120 incidents of crisis support for food, household items, energy funds, nappies, clothing, and access to laptops. 

We worked closely with partner organisations across the city to support the demands and needs of families who were struggling.  This included Abernecessities, Somebody Cares, Barnardos, Assassins Gym Food Bank, Social Bites, and Inchgarth Community Centre. 

March 2020 saw the first national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and introduced us all to a completely new way of living and working, literally overnight.  From working from home to home schooling to social isolation the pandemic had a severe impact on families and children. 


Throughout the year we continued to be there for families when they needed us.  Our practical and emotional support was a vital lifeline for families struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic and life in lockdown.  We supported 189 families and 389 children.  Our volunteers and staff kept in touch with them by phone, video call, text and email.  Wehn restrictions allowed we met with them in gardens, parks, cafes and community centres. 


 We provided more practical support than ever before: 


  • Books and craft packs were delivered to every child we support
  • Supermarket vouchers were gifted
  • Help with energy bills was provided
  • Food pantry memberships were arranged
  • Winter clothing and toys for families 

My Story 

When Graham became a dad he realised he needed support to give his son the right start in life.  Having experienced challenges with drugs growing up he knew how important it was to surround both himself and his son with a positive community of people.  

He reached out to Home-Start for parenting support and has been overwhelmed with the genuine kindness, generosity and welcoming support he and his son have received from Home-Start staff and volunteers. 

Watch Graham’s video and listen to his story to learn how Home-Start has made a massive difference in his life.

Our volunteers

The pandemic and the lockdown meant that we had to make very rapid changes to the way we delivered our one-to-one support.  Our volunteers and coordinators were not able go into family homes so we had to find new ways to keep in touch including texts emails and phone calls, but we quickly moved to using video calls wherever possible. 

This made everybody feel more connected and meant we were able to see and speak to children as well as their parents.  When restrictions began to ease in the autumn, we were able to meet families outside.  Meeting their volunteer in person again was a significant moment for many families – for some it was the first person they had seen outside of their immediate family since the beginning of the pandemic. 

It was difficult to go back into lockdown in December 2020, but everyone was better prepared for this second time round.  Throughout the year our priority was to make sure our services could flex to meet the needs of families and operate safely within the restrictions in place at any time. 

Learn More

Volunteer stories

Hear Home-Start Aberdeen volunteers, Mikko and Margaret, talk passionately about their experience as home-visiting volunteers with Home-Start Aberdeen and what supporting families means to them.

Volunteer with us

Cook ‘n’ Connect

One of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety for parents during the lockdown was being able to provide their children with healthy meals and snacks. For some families, there were several barriers that made this difficult for them – lack of money; inability to access healthy food; lack of cooking skills and confidence; poor mental health; and increased isolation. 


In response to this we created our Cook’n’Connect project, a structured 12-week programme supporting parents to provide a healthy diet for their children. 

This included: 

  • Fortnightly delivery of food packs including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, store cupboard ingredients 
  • Recipes in written, easy read, and video formats, matching the ingredients in food packs. 
  • Provision of kitchen equipment packs, children’s cooking packs and weaning packs 
  • One-to-one and small group video cooking sessions  
  • Access to a private Facebook group, allowing parents, volunteers, and staff to connect, share recipes and offer advice and tips to each other.  
  • Provision of plants and equipment to allow families to grow food at home

Throughout the project we supported 36 families who benefited significantly from the project:   


of families experienced improved wellbeing.


of families experienced improved knowledge / skills in cooking.


of families experienced improved affordability for healthy food.

“I've learned not to be scared to try new things, how to make from scratch instead of shop bought, and making things I wouldn’t normally do.”
Cook 'n' connect

Rising Stars 

Our well-established Rising Stars group was able to move quickly to online delivery at the start of the first lockdown. We found that Zoom was the preferred platform for families and we were able to help some to access devices and broadband to make sure they were able to join us every week.

Our priorities for Rising Stars remained the same as they had been before the pandemic:

  • To provide opportunities for children to play, learn and socialise together
  • To support good infant emotional wellbeing through strong parent-child relationships
  • To encourage and help parents to support their children’s early learning and development 
  • To improve parents’ mental health, confidence and self-esteem
  • To build family resilience 

Our weekly sessions included all the elements that make Rising Stars such a  positive experience for children and their parents.

Although not the same as meeting in a face-to-face group, Zoom Rising Stars gave families the chance to connect with others whilst providing parents with some welcome ideas for keeping their children entertained during the long months of life in lockdown. 

“It’s a great chance for us to meet up with other parents and children. At Rising Stars my son is connected with other children his own age and there are lots of ideas for games, crafts and activities. It makes me realise that we’re not alone.”
Rising Stars

Evening Stars

Evening Stars was a new initiative started in May 2020 at the request of parents in Rising Stars.  Parents told us they were feeling isolated, anxious, and fearful and many felt their mental health was being impacted by the pandemic.  They wanted a safe place to meet together to share their experiences, good and bad, and to give each other encouragement, advice and support. The group proved to be a lifeline for parents during this very challenging time. 

“When I went to that first Evening Stars meeting I was seriously thinking about suicide. Evening Stars and Home-Start saved my life and I really believe that I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Evening Stars

Over the the year we supported 28 families and 50 children who benefited significantly from the Rising Stars and Evening Stars projects:   


of families felt less isolated.


of families experienced an increase in confidence.


of families experienced an increase in their child’s wellbeing.

Charity Shop 

Offering a wide range of high-quality items at very reasonable prices, the Home-Start Aberdeen shop raises funds to support our work with families.  

Because of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, we were only able to open the shop for 6 weeks during 2020/21, between October and Christmas 2020.  Those six weeks were extremely busy though, demonstrating the crucial role the charity retail sector will play in the long road back to recovery from the pandemic.  

“2020 was a tough year for us but it was lovely to be open, even for just a few weeks and we were delighted to welcome old and new customers.  It was clear that a lot of people had suffered financially because of the pandemic and that they really needed shops like ours, where they could buy good quality items at affordable prices.”

Karen Milne, Shop Manager 


Shop volunteer stories

Hear Home-Start Aberdeen volunteer, Sheila, talk passionately about her experience as a shop volunteer with Home-Start Aberdeen.  She shares how important the shop is to the charity, the community, its customers, the families supported by Home-Start Aberdeen, and indeed for her personally.

Fundraising and Supporters

Allan Leslie – London marathon runner

Allan Lelsie trained for 2 years, running over 1,800 miles and raising over £5,000 for Home-Start Aberdeen. 

Allan (54), who has worked in nursing for over 36 years, was due to run for Home-Start Aberdeen in the 2020 London Marathon which was rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  He was fortunately able to carry forward his place to participate in the 2021 event.  In March 2020, Allan developed coronavirus symptoms and was severely ill for several weeks.  In a matter of days he went from marathon fitness to struggling to walk around his home. 

Allan also has haemophilia which is a rare condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot.  This means that if injuries are sustained these can bleed for longer than usual with sufferers being more susceptible to internal bleeds and bruising.  Through personal determination and perseverance Allan built up his strength with short walks and daily yoga.  Slowly re-gaining his fitness with longer walks and slow jogs to open water swimming at Knockburn Loch, to encourage his lungs to open up and clear, he managed to get back to running.  

“I wanted to make Home-Start and everyone who has supported me proud whilst raising as much awareness and money to support local families who are really struggling to cope. I did this to help them, because everyone needs a little help sometimes,” said Allan.


The money Allan has raised has helped to support local families with young children in Aberdeen who are struggling to cope.



S5 pupils at St Margaret’s School

Last year we were delighted to be chosen by a group of S5 pupils at St Margaret’s School for their Young Philanthropy Initiative project. The team prepared a fantastic presentation about the work we do, including an amazing video which highlighted the difference our support made to one family. 

They did such a great job that they won the competition and we received a funding award of £3,000 from The Wood Foundation, Manager and Principle Funder of YPI in Scotland.  The team have continued to support us by holding a food drive as part of our 2020 Christmas appeal, taking part in the Kiltwalk and organising other fundraising activities.

Christmas All Wrapped Up Appeal

Thanks to generous donations from individuals and organisations across the north-east, we were able to provide 45 families, including 86 children with winter gift packs in response to our All Wrapped Up appeal.

Several donors gifted bundles of warm coats, hats, gloves, scarfs, cosy pyjamas, toys, books and selection boxes for us to provide to the children of the families we support.

“I have given the kids their coats and gloves and put other bits away for Christmas, A was beaming with her jacket she is so happy with it. She feels really proud and smart in it”

Thank you to all our supporters and funders in 2020/21

who have helped make families lives better

Financial Performance 

The overall position for the year was a surplus of £18,461 (2020 – deficit £63,830) and is made up of a surplus on unrestricted funds of £49,215 and a deficit on restricted funds of £30,754.  At 31 March 2021, the charity’s funds totalled £186,609 of which £2,344 was restricted funding largely held in connection with the Scottish Television (STV) Children’s Winter Appeal for distribution to families in need. This left £184,265 available for use at the discretion of the trustees.   


Our objective is to hold a contingency reserve fund of at least £150,000. Given the uncertainties about securing future funding, the reserve fund should be sufficient to finance about 6 months of ongoing expenditure. At 31 March 2021, we held a reserve fund of £100,000 to which the board will make additional contributions as and when the financial results provide more flexibility.

Find out more about our support and how you can help