Who we are

We offer friendship, practical support and emotional advice to families living in Dorset who are having difficulties for a variety of different reasons such as poor mental health, postnatal depression, disability, domestic abuse, bereavement, isolation, financial hardship and multiple births.

Our mission is to give children the best possible start in life, by supporting parents so they grow in confidence, strengthening and enjoying their relationships with their children and widening their links with the local community.

Helping families since 1995

Families helped

Children supported


What we do

We understand that, sometimes, parents need a bit of nurturing, support and guidance. A little help can make a world of difference, so our trained volunteers will visit you in your own home for between two and four hours a week to offer an extra pair of hands and a listening ear.

And because everyone is different — and each child has their own unique, individual needs — we’ll work with you to find out what you need help with, and tailor our time with you to suit that. You can also be reassured that our time with you will remain confidential.

Here are just a few of the things we can help you with:

  • Establishing routines for your little ones and your home.
  • Strengthening your relationship with your child or children.
  • Improving your child’s physical and emotional health.
  • Improving your physical and emotional health.
  • Learning new parenting skills — we’ve got some great tips and tricks!
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated by recommending local services and groups.
  • Reducing stress from family conflict.
  • Meeting other people who are in the same boat by helping you make new connections.

Plus, we also run 5 nurturing family groups a week offering a safe and welcoming environment. We’re friendly and inclusive and are there for all sorts of parents: whether it’s postnatal depression, mental health problems or simply struggling to cope. You’ll be able to meet new friends, gain new skills and improve your confidence. After all, being a parent is a learning curve for everyone.


Areas we cover

Our reach covers a large part of the Dorset Council area including, the Purbecks, Swanage, Weymouth, Dorchester and Bridport and the whole of the BCP Council area including, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch. We also work across the borders of Hampshire and Wiltshire, going as far north as Cranborne and Fordingbridge and as far east at New Milton.

The population of this area is over 650,000 with many pockets of high-level deprivation.

Our team

We are a team of all part-time staff who are parents and so understand many of the challenges our families face.  Expert staff providing family support services are highly skilled and experienced and across the team have qualifications in:

  • Perinatal and Infant Mental Health
  • Parent Child Attachment Play (PCAP)
  • Baby Bonding for parents with Perinatal Mental Health 
  • Nurturing Programme for breaking cycles of abuse and addiction
  • Children and Young People Mental Health
  • Mental Health Practitioner / Champion
  • Suicide and bereavement Champion
  • Mental Health First Aid / Nursing
  • ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support Assistance
  • Supporting Emotional abuse in pregnancy 


Real stories

Home-Start changed my life

Home-Start changed my life

"Having a newborn had its own challenges, but with the increasing loss in of mobility, freedom and the security of my health I was a shell of a my...

There when I needed you

There when I needed you

My Story by Kat Brown “After having my third child, recovering from a C-section, and being deprived of sleep, I felt so sad, alone, anxious,...

Building a better family life

Building a better family life

Shelley who suffers from depression and other complex mental health issues was referred to Home-Start for one-to-one volunteer support to help her...

Current vacancies

Head of Operations
















Contact kathy@homestartwessex.org.uk or call 01202 574877 for an application pack and supporting information.

Home-Start Wessex Volunteer

To help give children the best possible start in life, Home-Start supports parents as they grow in confidence, strengthen their relationship with their children and widen their links with the local community. Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children in the local community.

The work of the volunteer requires a high level of commitment and reliability and will be supported by the Home-Start organisers.

Home-Start volunteers are expected to work towards the increased confidence and independence of the family by:

  • Offering support, friendship and practical help
  • Visiting the families in their own homes, where the dignity and identity of each individual can be respected and protected
  • Reassuring families that difficulties in bringing up children are not unusual
  • Emphasising the positive aspects of family life
  • Developing a relationship with the family in which time can be shared and an understanding developed
  • Encouraging parents’ strengths and emotional well-being for the ultimate benefit of their own children
  • Encouraging families to widen their network of relationships and to use effectively the support and services available in the community

The Home-Start organiser, who is in turn, responsible to the trustees, supports volunteers in their work with families offering regular supervision and training for the role.

Commitment Required

  • Initial course of preparation – all volunteers need to be prepared to offer their support to families. The initial course of preparation normally lasts 40 hours over a number of weeks
  • Time with families each week – to meet the needs of families and ensure the best support, we ask volunteers to offer to spend time with at least one family per week, ideally for 3 hours or more depending on the needs of the family
  • Willingness to accept regular support and supervision in respect of their voluntary activity
  • We recognise that volunteers may stop volunteering at any time, but we would expect and hope they would be able to offer their time to Home-Start for two years or more

If this sounds like something that you’d like to find out more about, please contact us for more information.

Home-Start is committed to equal opportunities and to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check will be required for this role.