In 2019, two individuals embarked on a journey to make a difference in the lives of families in South Warwickshire. Marie Ashford and Mel Pritchard, co-founders of Home-Start South Warwickshire (HSSW), had a shared vision of providing practical help, friendship, and emotional support to families when they needed it the most. Their story is one of determination, perseverance, and a deep commitment to the well-being of their local community.
Marie Ashford: “As a health visitor, I had the privilege of working closely with Home-Start volunteers from various districts outside of South Warwickshire. The support provided by these volunteers had an immensely positive impact on families, and the gratitude from these families was clearly seen”.
It was during this time that Marie resolved that families in South Warwickshire should also have the opportunity to benefit from this invaluable support.
Setting up HSSW was no small feat, but Marie was determined to make it happen. Alongside her co-founder Mel Pritchard and with the support of dedicated trustees, they embarked on a journey to develop a service that would become a lifeline for families in their community.
For Mel, the motivation to establish HSSW came from a deeply personal place. She saw an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of local families who might not have the same level of support that she had during her own challenging early years as a parent. Juggling the care of 1-year-old twins and a 3-year-old, Mel understood first-hand the difficulties of parenthood. She was determined to offer that much-needed support to other families and aid local children in their development.
One of the cornerstones of HSSW's approach is the ability to work directly with families in their own homes. Home-Start volunteers offer practical help, friendship and emotional support dependant on the family’s needs. What started as a vision for this one-on-one support has grown into a comprehensive range of services. Alongside 1:1 home visiting support HSSW also offers the Freedom Programme for survivors of domestic abuse and the PEEP programme for parents and children that aims to make the most of learning opportunities in everyday life. Their perinatal service offers mums and dads, during pregnancy and for the first 8 months of parenting, 1:1 volunteer support and antenatal and postnatal support groups and the Dad Matters programme supports bonding and attachment and positive mental health for dads.
The journey of Home-Start South Warwickshire, from its inception to its current success, is a testament to the power of community, individuals like Marie and Mel and the unwavering dedication of the HSSW volunteers. Their vision has turned into a reality, and as a result, countless families in South Warwickshire have found the support and assistance they needed during challenging times.
Four years on and the work continues for HSSW, and with the incredible team and support from the community. They are incredibly proud to have supported 118 families with 1:1 volunteer home visiting and a total of over 800 beneficiaries across all our services during this time.
The charity will continue to work hard to meet the needs of local parents and children and fulfil their vision that every parent in South Warwickshire has the support they need to give their children the best start in life