Kind-hearted volunteers help families in need

The Venables family
The Venables family

Many families struggle to cope for a variety of reasons and would benefit from some help and advice from someone who understands.

This is why the voluntary organisation, Home-Start Glasgow North which is based in Maryhill, was set up about 13 years ago to help families who were struggling to cope in the North west and east of Glasgow.

One Bearsden couple, who already have three children of their own aged 12, nine and four months old, work as volunteers for the organisation.

Deborah Venables (33) from Baljaffray took on the role of volunteering in 2013 and since then she’s helped two families including supporting a lady to enable her to attend sing and grow music therapy sessions with her twin babies.

Her husband, Aaron (37) also joined the board of trustees ten months ago.

This is very different to his day job in the corporate world, he is a regional director with global marketing chemicals company, but he wanted to use the skills he’d gained in the business world for a good cause.

He said: “It’s my job to build the charity’s strategy and direction.

“There are eight of us on the board and we all come from very varied backgrounds.

“I’m on a mission to prove that you can do well in business and do something to help others as well.

“My wife and I have young children ourselves and we know how challenging it can be.

“I’m passionate about families with young children and want to do something to help anyone who is struggling.”

Among many things Aaron helps staff to improve their time management and to prioritise certain tasks.

He is an expert at juggling things as he works 60 hours a week in his day job and spends ten to 20 hours per week with Home Start - all while raising a young family. He also manages to fit in time for the gym.

He added: “I advise staff to complete the tasks that are urgent and important first and to delay the jobs that are urgent but not so important until later.”

Another Bearsden lady, Isabel Meadows, became a volunteer with Home Start after reading an article last year in The Milngavie and Bearsden Herald about the organisation.

As her children are grown up now, aged 20, 23 and 26 and Isabel felt that she had the time and parenting experience to help others.

She had been looking for a volunteering opportunity and this was a perfect match.

Isabel said: “I’ve been helping a family since last October.

“One of the most important things I learned during the training for the role was that we must be good at listening and non-judgemental.

“I wanted to help vulnerable families and this was an excellent way to do it.

“Home Start provide ongoing support and advice as well as six weeks supervision to begin with.

“Families experience all sorts of difficulties - sometimes several at once - and there are many ways you can help.”

Volunteers may just provide a sympathetic ear or they can offer practical solutions such as budgeting or help families to access other sources of support within the community.

Isabel added: “You can help to match a family with social groups or offer advice about how to lose weight if they have a weight issue.

“It’s about giving people the skills to help themselves.

“You may need to accompany a family member to an appointment or help them find out how to get there by public transport. Or they may need you to look after their other children.”

Home Start is holding an AGM in Maryhill Community Centre, Avenuepark Street, on October 2 at 12.30pm to 2pm.

Anyone interested is welcome to attend.