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Home-Start in Suffolk

A group of people stood holding colourful umbrella's

On Monday 20 September 2021 at Manor Farm Barn in Semer, Home-Start in Suffolk were presented with their Queen’s Award award for Voluntary Service. We caught up with Tara Spense, CEO at Home-Start in Suffolk and some of the volunteers what the award means to them and why they would recommend volunteering to others.

Home-Start in Suffolk has received a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.  Chief-executive of Home-Start in Suffolk, Tara Spence with Judith Shallow, deputy lieutenant of Suffolk.  Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown
Home-Start in Suffolk has received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Chief-executive of Home-Start in Suffolk, Tara Spence with Judith Shallow, Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Home-Start in Suffolk works with vulnerable and struggling families with children aged 0-12 years across the County of Suffolk in East Anglia, providing support through 1-1 home- visiting and since the pandemic, when this was forced to pause, the organisation introduced telephone and virtual support which will not continue to be provided to those who need it alongside our usual face to face support model which has now resumed.

Home-Start in Suffolk also host a number of groups both face to face and in a virtual format. They have 3 bases from which our team coordinate our volunteers – Bury St Edmunds (supporting West and Mid Suffolk), Martlesham (supporting Ipswich and Coastal areas) and Beccles (supporting the Waveney area). Volunteers supported 568 vulnerable, struggling families (2500+ people) as they navigated through difficult circumstances including Mental Health, illness, disability, bereavement. Domestic abuse, poverty, isolation. Their work benefits the whole Suffolk system, with Home- Start being recognised as an essential early intervention provider as well as supporting family’s de-escalation from statutory support.

“It was with enormous pride and pleasure I presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service today to Home-Start in Suffolk. They are an incredible organisation, proven to be first among equals to have been awarded this prestigious accolade, the equivalent of an MBE for groups. This organisation could not run without volunteers, many of whom received long-service awards today. Thanks to an engaged group of trustees and such an efficient and inspiring executive team, the 250-plus volunteers with their caring, hands-on and high-impact support make a difference every day to so many children and families’ lives. Their response to the pressures of COVID have helped many more families keep it together in difficult times and no doubt the need for Home-Start’s interventions is continuing to grow. Suffolk is lucky to have them.”

Judith Shallow, Deputy Lieutenant for Suffolk

“It was a wonderful occasion and a fabulous opportunity to see so many volunteers gathering and expressing what being a volunteer means to them and sharing stories of how the Home-Start in Suffolk has not only changed the lives of the families they have worked with but their own lives too. Giving them a sense of purpose, an enormous sense of fulfilment, friendships, and great support whenever it is needed.  I am incredibly proud to be part of the organisation and am so delighted that our volunteers have been recognised with this award.”

Tara Spence, CEO at Home-Start in Suffolk
Anthony Horowitz MBE, presented the long service awards to volunteers from Home-Start in Suffolk.  Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown
Anthony Horowitz OBE, presented the long service awards to volunteers from Home-Start in Suffolk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Why would you recommend volunteering to others?

“As a volunteer I’m so excited and thrilled by this phenomenal achievement. Everyone within the organisation is so passionate about what we do.  Pride and compassion run deep through the whole team and we are united in our common goal to support families across Suffolk.  I am so proud and feel very privileged to be part of such an incredible team.  I find volunteering is like baking a cake, you get out what you put in and this award and the recognition of the work of Home-Start in Suffolk volunteers is the icing on the perfect cake.”

Ali, Volunteer

“Being a volunteer for Home-Start in Suffolk has been a source of great joy to me, seeing families that finish support in a much better position than when they first were referred. I feel great joy and satisfaction having seen the
organisation grow to what it is today. I am incredibly proud to be part of the team which is a great support to the families and very much part of the community itself! It has also been a tremendous source of friendship for me. I have made some wonderful friends along the way and feel very much part of the team, knowing that I am valued and that the staff team behind the organisation are always there for us whenever we need them too.” To receive this award is truly incredible! It is such a wonderful achievement for everyone involved.”

Jane, Volunteer

“I joined as a volunteer in 2017 with the goal to share my own experience and to help others navigating
similar challenges I had faced as a parent with children with additional needs, providing friendship to the families when they need it most. It is an absolute privilege to have been honoured with this award and I an extremely proud to be part of such a wonderful team.”

Thomas, Volunteer
Volunteers posing with umbrellas