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Campaign launched to find community volunteers to support local families

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A Welsh charity that supports families through some of their most challenging times has launched a campaign to recruit more volunteers to join their team after seeing a rise in demand during the pandemic.

Home-Start Cymru is looking for people who can spare even just an hour a week to help deliver their services to families.

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Whether that is being matched to support a local family as a home-visitor or telephone befriender, taking on a leadership role as a charity trustee, or with skills to help with family groups or fundraising.

Bethan Webber, CEO of Home-Start Cymru, said: “Home-Start Cymru has seen referrals rise during the pandemic making the charity more important than ever to support parents with many issues including isolation, loneliness, mental health, financial worries, disabilities and bereavement.

“We are looking for people who can pass forward some of their spare time and kindness to make a real difference to another person’s life. If you have the time, we have the role. Be a volunteer for Home-Start Cymru and make an impact on a child that will last a lifetime.”

Home-Start Cymru needs to recruit 150 volunteers to help respond to families after COVID. The charity has not only seen an increased demand, but also many volunteers who have worked with the charity for a long time stopped volunteering during the pandemic. New volunteers are required to respond to the need.

Home-Start Cymru works within 18 local authorities in Wales whose staff and trained volunteers offer parents compassionate, non-judgemental support. As part of the Home-visiting service, volunteers complete an in-depth training programme after which they are matched to a family who they visit once a week.

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One mum described it as “life-changing” when her volunteer came every week to hold her colicky tearful baby, enabling her to shower in peace then sort out the paperwork. A disabled mum was given support to bake with her children in lockdown, and a refugee family was given the confidence to explore their local area thanks to their volunteer taking them out and about. A mum of a baby with Downs Syndrome, born with two holes in her heart requiring surgery, said her volunteer became a lifeline of emotional support that she hadn’t even realised she needed.

Bethan Webber said: “Volunteering is a wonderfully rewarding opportunity to give your time knowing it is making a big difference to a family in our community. It is such a simple concept but a mighty one. Our volunteers are of all ages, male and female, with many different backgrounds and experiences. Not all of them are parents.”

“Being a parent has never been easy. It can be lonely, frustrating, heart-breaking and overwhelming. Life-changing events can happen to anyone. That is why we are here to stand alongside families when they need us most – and we need more amazing volunteers to help us do that.”

If you can spare as little as an hour a week, you could help parents not just survive but thrive. As a Home-Start Cymru volunteer, you will be given training and support to be effective and make a real difference to families in your community.  You will also develop transferable skills which can support you in your life, whether that’s at home or at work.

Lynne Powell, Volunteer Recruitment and Development Manager for Home-Start Cymru said: “Our roots in communities mean we are well placed to stand alongside families facing challenges in their lives. We are extremely proud of the achievements of Home-Start Cymru and the incredible work the expert staff and volunteers undertake locally. We look forward to welcoming more volunteers on board to help us continue our vital work.”

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To register to become a Home-Start Cymru volunteer or find out more here about volunteering opportunities by visiting https://homestartcymru.org.uk/volunteer

(Lead image: Alex Hannam Photography)

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Ospreys star helps kick off mental health awareness week activities

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As Action for Children marks Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), the charity recently celebrated its Bouncing Back Plus mental health partnership with Ospreys in the Community with a huge event at the Academy of Sport in Llandarcy.

Hundreds of primary school children joined the celebrations and were treated to rugby sessions, craft workshops, music therapy and mental health classes with Ospreys star, Lloyd Ashley.

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The charity teamed up with the rugby region’s community arm over the autumn and spring terms to deliver a combination of classroom-based Cognitive and Dialectical behavioural therapy (CBT and DBT) techniques and physical exercises such as touch rugby on the playground.

Bouncing Back Plus has become increasingly important as recent Action for Children research showed nearly a third of children across UK (32%) said that school does not provide enough emotional support for them with 28% of parents agreeing.

The children the charity polled in Wales were the least satisfied with support received in schools with 28% saying they received a great or good amount of practical support and only a quarter (25%) reporting getting the same level of emotional support.

Primary school kids from the Ospreys region enjoying craft sessions

Caryl Dyer manages the Bouncing Back Plus programme for Action for Children in the region and said: “The celebration was wonderful. We wanted to run an event to celebrate the success of the programme as we’ve worked with 15 primary schools and almost 800 children in 6 months. The programme is critical for the mental health and wellbeing of our primary school children especially in light of the Covid-blighted period they have been through.

“We wanted to invite everyone along and enjoy a bit of normality and the elements of mental wellbeing and physical exercise in lots of different workshops. It’s been a roaring success working with Ospreys in the Community, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” she added.

Holly, 11, from Coed Hirwaun Primary School enjoyed the celebration and said: “It’s been really good and a lot of fun. We did lots of activities and I really liked doing ‘capture the flag’ and making stress balls.”

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Tyler, also 11, from Pontlliw Primary School, added: “The day was fun, I enjoyed the rugby and the stress ball class. I enjoyed all of it, really.”

The children enjoyed a host of physical exercise activities as well as wellbeing sessions

At the end of each Bouncing Back Plus programme, each participant receives a Mental Health First Aid Kit, providing them with resources that support them to manage their mood and sustain improvements in their emotional wellbeing. The process also supports us to identify those young people who may need a higher-tier intervention.

Tom Sloane, Foundation Manager at Ospreys in the Community, said: ‘It’s really good to see that this programme is around supporting kids, building confidence, resilience and supporting mental health and wellbeing through physical and emotional sessions.

“The celebration ties off the last two years really nicely and it’s great to do that in partnership with Action for Children.

“It’s a really positive relationship we’ve got as official charity partners and we’re looking forward to the next year working together as this programme grows and hopefully, we can help even more children.’

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Kidney charity unveils new name and revamped branding

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After nine years of providing unrivalled support and care to the kidney community of Wales, the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, is changing its name and revamping its branding.

The charity is now called: Popham Kidney Support.

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The re-brand signifies an important transition for the charity that includes a new name, logo and website. The charity opted to rebrand following a trustees meeting where the name was discussed. It was thought that the former name did not clearly explain what the charity offers. The new name, Popham Kidney Support, does exactly that, while also maintaining and recognising the historical origins of the organisation.

Popham Kidney Support was set up in 2012 and is managed by the friends and family of the late Paul Popham. The trustees felt that Popham must remain in the name, and this is also reflected in the logo, where Paul Popham’s handwriting is seen in its design. The brand colours have also stayed the same. The colour green implies new growth, vibrant health and also has connotations of rebirth and renewal, an apt description of what the rebrand represents.

The inclusion of a butterfly in the new logo design was chosen as a symbol of transformation, mirroring the sole objective for the charity which is to transform the lives of kidney patients. The butterfly wings are also made up of two kidney shapes, once again keeping a consistent theme that is relevant to what the organisation offers.

Popham Kidney Support’s rebrand journey began in September last year, and the trustees have been through various stages of feedback. This has included offering the service users and followers of the charity the opportunity to give their opinion on the new name and the logo design. Keeping an open dialogue between the charity and its service users, volunteers and stakeholders was an important aspect of the process for the trustees.

Additionally, the charity recently announced two new ambassadors: TV chef Matt Tebbutt and Welsh TV presenter Sian Lloyd, both of whom will aid the charity in reaching its fundraising goal. The goal for Popham Kidney Support is to raise £132,000 for the Children’s Kidney Centre, Cardiff and it has recently surpassed £30,000.

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Sian Lloyd, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “The new name is an exciting new chapter for the charity, offering a new clear direction into its 10th year.”

Matt Tebbutt, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “I wish Popham Kidney Support the best of luck with its rebrand. The new name and logo are now an appropriate symbol of what they do. I am pleased to help such a fantastic charity that provides vital support to those with kidney disease in Wales.”

The new name and logo were unveiled at the charity’s Supporters Celebration on April 29 at the Mercure Hotel, Swansea. In attendance were the trustees and employees of Popham Kidney Support, its service users, volunteers and stakeholders, all of whom have helped the charity support everyone affected by kidney disease in Wales, and a guest appearance from former Swansea City footballer, Lee Trundle.

Joanne Popham, CEO of Popham Kidney Support, said: “We are extremely pleased with the result of the rebrand. It was important to the trustees and myself to recognise the history of the charity, and we have done that by keeping Popham in the name and my dad, Paul Popham’s handwriting within the logo, keeping his legacy alive.

We believe the new name and logo clearly signifies what we do, it says, no one is alone in their journey, the charity is here to support them. Though we have seen a rebirth of the charity, our aims remain the same: to ensure our community of people with kidney disease can experience life to the fullest!”

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Welsh family charity encourages mums to ask for help if they are struggling as part Maternal Mental Health Week campaign

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A Welsh family support charity is encouraging mums to talk about their wellbeing and reach out for support if they need it as part of a campaign for Maternal Mental Health Week (May 2-8).

Home-Start Cymru is raising awareness among local mums to let them know that in addition to clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.

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Bethan Webber, Chief Executive of Home-Start Cymru, said: “For Maternal Mental Health Week, we are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help. There is still a real stigma around talking openly about parental mental health.

“We would love to encourage mums who are feeling overwhelmed to take the brave decision to reach out for support.  Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely and relentless. That is why Home-Start Cymru is ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgmental support.”

Home-Start Cymru supports mums’ mental health with trained volunteers through a range of activities, including wellbeing walks in the community, 1-2-1 support in the home, weekly group support groups and virtual catch-ups.

Leanne Joy, a Home-Start Cymru volunteer who has experienced perinatal mental health herself, said: “After rounds of IVF, I fell pregnant with my first, and after giving birth, I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t feel how I should be feeling. I felt the loneliest and most vulnerable I had ever felt. I was lucky to be referred by my GP and supported by the perinatal mental health team.”

The mother of two from Cardiff continues, “After my diagnosis and treatment, I wanted to give back and found Home-Start Cymru by chance. This was my opportunity to help parents who are experiencing the same as me. I really wanted to help others feel less alone and make a difference for those who feel there is no way out. Because there’s a way out. You just have to reach out.”

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Meirwen Jones, Head of Operations for Home-Start Cymru, said: “Home-Start plays a vital role in providing non-judgemental peer support in people’s homes alongside group support. This year’s theme of Maternal Mental Health Week is fitting as it is ‘The Power of Connections’.

“We know only too well how not being able to see family and friends has been difficult throughout the pandemic. Home-Start harnesses the power of human connection to support families facing mental health challenges in the perinatal period.

“The excellent support our staff and trained volunteers provide has an amazing impact on families – because we truly are stronger together.”

Meirwen continues: “We understand the value of face to face connections, especially for first time mums. Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation such as Home-Start Cymru could be the first step to make a positive difference. 

“The impact on families can be amazing – because we truly are stronger together. In the meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture-perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”

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Another mum who was supported by Home-Start said: “Please don’t shy away from asking for help. We all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but didn’t realise it at the time.

“To me, Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be. Without Home-Start I think I would have fallen into a deep depression, but I didn’t and that’s thanks to my volunteer.”

Home-Start Cymru works across 18 local authorities in Wales providing compassionate support to local families who are facing a wide range of challenges including mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple births, domestic abuse, financial hardship or supporting a parent or child who has a disability or health issue.

Once a family is matched, their trained volunteer visits once a week for two hours to support in a wide variety of ways that meet the individual needs of that family.

Maternal Mental Health Week, which is into its eighth year, is a campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

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The week focuses on raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems, advocating for women affected, changing attitudes and helping families access the information, care and support they need to recover.

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