Happy families – Home-Start Caithness open for business at new premises in Wick
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Balloons, party treats and the sound of happy children playing marked the opening of a local family support charity's new premises in Wick.
Home-Start Caithness is now operating in the centre of the town at Kirk Lane and manager Fiona Carlisle took us on a guided tour of the building which has benefited thanks to some financial assistance from Dounreay and windfarm funds to create a vibrant and homely feel.
"Home-Start is a national federation that was created for families," said Fiona.
"It was recognised that, in those early years, that families often need supporting – almost like a community of support – and that's where Home-Start came from. Over the years, it's been set up in different areas throughout the country."
Home-Start Caithness has been supporting families in Caithness since 1999. It is a voluntary organisation committed to "promoting the welfare of families" with at least one child under the age of five. Its former premises in Wick was at Harbour Terrace but that operated as an office and not a base where families could be invited into.
"We're now able to expand our services and to try and create a home from home atmosphere – a place where you can come and feel safe with nurturing and support," added Fiona.
There are varied reasons why people may want to access help from Home-Start and this could be related to childhood trauma, care experience, relationship breakdowns or domestic abuse. "There is harder end, trauma-based care that we give or it could be that they're a new mum or dad and they may need some mental health support.
"We provide perinatal mental health support with a specialised team that work with new families. The most important part of a child's development is the first 1001 days – that's when your brain develops and you are given nurturing. That is what we specialise in."
There are three senior members of staff and four family support workers based at the new premises in Wick. The one-to-one with home support is done through the 18 volunteers that work alongside the Kirk Lane staff.
Family support worker Vikky Gordon has been with Home-Start Caithness for three years and was helping out on the opening day. "We got the building in July and helped transform the space into a family friendly area that we can run our groups from," she said.
"I run family groups in Wick and Thurso. We run groups from birth up to preschool and they're free for anybody to come and join. Once a week we have family support groups, which are open to everyone, and there's play, drawing, and music sessions. Any family member can bring their young children. We're open from nine-to-five and parents can come along for a chat and some coffee and just see a friendly face.
"We also do home visits for families that are more in need – we go once a week or fortnight to visit their homes and offer support with whatever they're struggling with."
The Home-Start Caithness staff also wanted to point out the importance of regenerating an old building in the town when so many businesses have folded in recent years. "It's an old building and it's great to put some life back into the town centre," said Fiona.
Home-Start Caithness has a Christmas fair on November 22 at Wick Assembly Rooms from 5-8pm.
There is also a Christmas raffle with tickets on sale until December 18 and priced £1 each. More details on the charity's Facebook page.
Contact details and more information
Tel: 01955 609163
Secure email for NHS and Highland Council employees: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate via PayPal: PayPal.Me/HomeStartCaithness
Donate when shopping online via EasyFundraising: www.easyfundraising.org.uk/invite/80Q0CY/VHN5N1
The charity is always looking for volunteers to help with home visits or to fundraise for it. Please contact it to see how you can help.