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Family support group Home-Start East Highland looking for volunteers in Wester Ross; Alness woman who has volunteered for 24 years urges others to follow suit


By Ian Duncan

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Shiela Gibbs Centre) has been a volunteer with Home-Start East Highland for almost 24 years and is backing a drive for more new recruits. With her are Leeanne Jack (left|) and Debbie Clark. Picture: Callum Mackay
Shiela Gibbs Centre) has been a volunteer with Home-Start East Highland for almost 24 years and is backing a drive for more new recruits. With her are Leeanne Jack (left|) and Debbie Clark. Picture: Callum Mackay

A FAMILY support charity is looking for volunteers in the Wester Ross area.

Home-Start East Highland, a charity that supports young families, is expanding its operations following the award of funding and is now looking for volunteers.

The Inverness and Invergordon-based organisation is committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child aged under five. It also runs a Perinatal Infant Mental Health project (PNIMH) that supports the welfare of women throughout pregnancy and through the first two or three years of a child’s life. The service has been shown to improve mental wellbeing and infant outcomes.

Funding to underpin the project has been sourced from the Scottish Government’s Perinatal Infant Mental Health Fund.

Sheila Gibbs, who is 72 and from Coulpark in Alness, has volunteered for almost 24 years and urged more people to do the same.

She originally wanted to help because she wanted something to do in her spare time and said: “You do a prep course before you become a volunteer.

“A friend of mine that worked with my sister worked with Home-Start as a volunteer and she said to me ‘why don’t you volunteer to go as well?’ So I did.”

Ms Gibbs said the course lasted a few weeks before she started as a volunteer and added: “I enjoy it. It depends what kind of person you are – if you are the kind of person that wants to help people.

“We do lots of volunteering for people that have the effects of postnatal depression, disability, mental health, bereavement and a different range of other challenges. If you are that type of person that can do that, it is good to help people.”

She said that you could help someone over a number of months and you could see the results and difference a volunteer had made. “That is how you know it was worth your while,” she said.

Kathleen Macleod, Home-Start East Highland senior co-ordinator, said: “We are using this fund to secure our service throughout the Highland mainland area and to enhance our family support – including a focus on dads and infant mental health – as well as to make further development for digital and remote support.”

Volunteers, who are usually parents themselves, will be given specialist training and need only offer as little as two hours or so of their time a week.

Mrs Macleod said: “This could take the form of helping with healthy eating, budgeting, making or keeping medical appointments, the physical demands of coping with a baby or young children, or simply just talking. If you are a mum, dad, grandparent or carer and feel you could make a difference, please contact us.”

Call Home-Start East Highland on 01349 854018 or email info@home-starteasthighland.org.uk


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