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Issued: 30th August 2013
Parents in Sheffield will be encouraged to read and play with their children and set up
morning and bedtime routines as part of a new project funded by the Department for
Education and delivered by Home-Start Sheffield.
Sheffield is one of just nine regions across the UK to benefit from the school readiness
initiative – called Big Hopes Big Future – that will operate through Home-Start’s network
of trained volunteers working with families.
Sara Gowen, from Home-Start Sheffield says: “School readiness is about basic practical
issues as well as literacy and numeracy. Home-Start Sheffield’s volunteers will be
helping parents in Sheffield to prepare their children for school; from arriving on time
and fed, being able to play with other children and recognising their name, to eating
and drinking unaided, coping away from their parents and being toilet trained.
“Parents will benefit too, through improved interaction with their own children and
developing the confidence to engage with an educational organisation. Children
reading and having morning and bedtime routines is also good for the whole family.”
The success of the project will be measured by whether children are able to cope with
school routines and demonstrate appropriate behaviour. Outcomes for parents will be
monitored too and measured against their own learning goals. Participating families
will be involved in the long term planning and development of the project. Where
appropriate, and once their confidence has improved, they will also be encouraged to
become Home-Start volunteers to share the support they have received with other
families. Sara Gowen continues:
“Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers and this project is about giving
mothers and fathers the confidence to build strong foundations for their children’s
lifelong education. Home-Start’s unique method of delivering support allows them to
develop trust and so raise sensitive subjects such as parents’ own reading ability or the
financial pressures on the family. Our volunteers can then help parents by
demonstrating the fun in reading to children or by helping find support in libraries and
adult reading lessons”.
Home-Start is developing special additional training modules to allow its volunteers to
take on school readiness training to support specific families, or to offer this support
more broadly to parents with very young children.
Note for editors
Big Hopes Big Future will run in local Home-Starts in Sheffield, Liverpool, North
and South Manchester, Bolton, South Suffolk, Mid Suffolk, Nottingham and
Charnwood (Loughborough and the surrounding area), and also in additional
areas Suffolk Coastal and Amber Valley (Derbyshire).
Press contacts
Sara Gowen, Scheme Manager, Home-Start Sheffield: 0114 278 8377;
[email protected]
Annie O’Brian, head of communications, Home-Start UK: [email protected]
0116 258 7933. Out of hours: 07917 392130
[email protected] 0116 258 7030
Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family support charities. We recruit and train volunteers to support
parents, in their own homes, with at least one child under the age of five. The charity was set up in 1973
and now has a network of more than 300 Home-Starts supporting nearly 32,000 families and almost
70,000 children each year. Nearly 16,000 volunteers visit families in their own homes – parents
supporting other parents in a variety of situations including isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness
or disability.
In 2013 Home-Start is celebrating its 40th anniversary:
Home-Start was set up in Leicester in 1973 by Margaret Harrison CBE
The Home-Start service is now available to families in communities throughout the UK and on
British forces bases in Germany and Cyprus
Internationally, Home-Start has been adopted and adapted in 22 countries, including Canada,
Japan and Uganda.
Department for Education
Home-Start was one of 72 organisations to have secured funding for 2013 to 2015 to implement national
innovative projects and services to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. Funding for
the Big Hopes Big Futures project was awarded through a full, fair and transparent contracting process.
Further details on the Department for Education website:
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