Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Home-Start in Suffolk family coordinator who covers Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket shares what she does to help families in the county





A family coordinator from Home-Start in Suffolk has shared the challenges she faces on a daily basis as the charity faces an unprecedented demand for its services.

Vikki Gant helps families struggling with serious health problems, bereavement, family breakdown and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The charity forecasts more than 1,600 families in Suffolk will need support from its home visiting, telephone and group sessions this year – numbers which it said are unprecedented.

Vikki Gant from Home-Start in Suffolk invited Suffolk News along to find out what she does to help families in the county. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk
Vikki Gant from Home-Start in Suffolk invited Suffolk News along to find out what she does to help families in the county. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk

From visiting a family with financial difficulties to introducing new mums to baby massage, Vikki who covers Mid Suffolk and West Suffolk, has shared with SuffolkNews the work she does on a daily basis.

“A typical day doesn’t exist for me”

“My role is so broad and I’m always having to think on my feet and problem-solve,” said Vikki.

Her day starts with an online allocation meeting with other coordinators, where they discuss the new families referred to Home-Start in Suffolk and decide what volunteers can do to support them.

She said: “We average around 20 referrals each week across the county with 40 per cent of these being based in the West of Suffolk.

“So ensuring we are keeping on top of our referrals, allocating them to a team member, allocating their initial visits and matching them with volunteers is vital.”

Home visit

Next Vikki visited a family living in Fornham St Martin, near Bury St Edmunds.

She said: “This family are really struggling financially, mum has been unable to work due to ill health and dad is her carer, so we have agreed that our volunteer will offer some support helping to budget.

“I invited them to attend one of our cooking workshops to help develop their skills to make nutritional, budget friendly meals for the whole family, while building their confidence, and giving them the opportunity to meet other families in the community.”

Vikki’s visit gave her the opportunity to complete a risk assessment to ensure it’s safe for a volunteer to visit the home.

A Home-Start in Suffolk peer support session with volunteers in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk
A Home-Start in Suffolk peer support session with volunteers in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk

Meet up with the volunteers

After the home visit, Vikki headed to West Suffolk House in Bury to catch up with her line manager Alison for her monthly supervision.

These sessions give her the opportunity to discuss the families she works with and any challenges she might be experiencing.

As a coordinator it is part of Vikki’s role to host her own supervision sessions with volunteers.

This allows her to talk things through with them and point them in the direction of any training opportunities they may be interested in.

The Mums in Mind group. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk
The Mums in Mind group. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk

Mums in Mind

After grabbing a quick lunch break and following up on some calls from families, Vikki heads to a family hub to run a Mums in Mind project alongside volunteer Gemma.

She said: “It is a small group programme for mums who are feeling isolated or experiencing low mood.

“I teach infant massage as part of it, which helps with attachment and bonding with baby.”

Vikki Gant from Home-Start in Suffolk. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk
Vikki Gant from Home-Start in Suffolk. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk

At the end of the day – what are Vikki’s highs and lows?

Once Mums in Mind was finished Vikki stayed at the hub to catch up on paperwork.

Reflecting on the most difficult part of her role, Vikki said: “I would say it is when a family is really struggling and the resources just aren’t there to give a family we are working with the support we know they need.

“We feel their frustrations and it can be really hard.”

But ultimately Vikki finds the job really rewarding.

Vikki Gant demonstrating some baby massage. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk.
Vikki Gant demonstrating some baby massage. Picture: Home-Start in Suffolk.

She said: “I would say that I love the rewarding feeling I get when I know we’ve supported a family, and when what we’ve done has really helped them and made a difference.

“Whether that has been through the group I have run or one to one support that the family have received from their volunteer. I love being part of their Home-Start journey.

“What we do at Home-Start is really special.

“Our volunteers really are the heart of our organisation and I feel proud and privileged to be part of such an important organisation.”

To find out more about Home-Start in Suffolk visit www.homestartinsuffolk.org.