Charity’s pride after 15 years of helping young families

jpco-4-9-13  Home start anniversary  (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-4-9-13 Home start anniversary (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Home life does not always run as smoothly as we would like and one charity has reached a milestone when it comes to offering families a helping hand.

Home-Start Crawley, Horsham and Mid-Sussex (CHAMS) has been running for 15 years this month.

And, despite a constant battle to secure funds, the team helped 131 families, including 306 children, last year alone.

The charity supports families battling issues such as isolation, financial hardship, illness, bereavement, neglect and multiple births.

As their website says: “Even the most dedicated parents can face challenges that prevent them doing all they want for their children.”

Laura Bedford, temporary co-ordinator for Crawley, described how the one thing which hasn’t changed over the years is the fight for funding.

She said: “The need for Home-Start is greater than ever and the need for funding is greater than ever. It’s a constant battle to get the funding.”

Crawley Borough Council contributed £16,540 to the charity in 2013/14 and they are waiting to hear whether an application for Lottery funding has been successful.

The money would add up to £100,000 a year for three years, and Laura said: “We just sit by the phone waiting for it to happen.

“If it did, it would be absolutely incredible for us.

“That’s a significant amount of money that would enable us to do a lot of things. It’s like fulfilling your wish list.”

Laura and her team would like to look into the possibility of expanding Home-Start further afield.

She said: “We cover Crawley, Horsham and Mid-Sussex but it’s really hard when people ring from outside the area we have to say what’s your postcode and then we have to say no.”

With a skeleton crew of paid staff, Home-Start relies on its network of volunteers and is looking to recruit more.

Laura added: “I’m proud of what we do and knowing we can and do make a difference.

“When you close a family’s case and they no longer need our support and can stand on their own two feet – that satisfaction is huge.”

CJ Rey, of Crawley, received help from the charity after her premature twins were born and is full of praise for the assistance she received.

She said: “They helped me get out and kept me sane. She was not just a helper she became one of the family.”