Wiltshire

Home-Start service for struggling mums in Swindon ends

A service that has helped struggling mothers in Swindon for the past 28 years has had its contract axed by the council and will end in August.

The volunteer-run service Home-Start ran a weekly group session and provided one-on-one home visits in the town.

Swindon Borough Council said familes could get the same service through its children's centres instead.

But Jan Aylward, of Home-Start, said many mothers were not well enough or confident enough to visit the centres.

She said: "I would say that they can get a very good service from the children's centres, but certainly not the level of intensive home visiting we've been able to give over the years.

"With the best will in the world the work load of family support workers in the centres doesn't allow them to actually visit individual families for a whole morning."

'Emotional health'

Ms Aylward said many of the families referred to them had been unable to get to children's centres.

"With a volunteer going with them for help or building up their confidence beforehand, then we can get them there," she said.

"A lot of them just wouldn't be able to get there because of their emotional health or their physical health."

Councillor David Rennard, cabinet member for children's services, said 11 of the 14 children's centres in Swindon provided outreach and family support services for families with children aged 0 to five.

The remaining three centres will provide those service from April 2011, he added.

He said: "In 2008 we put all our family support services out to tender to find a service that caters for the wider age range of 0-18, fulfilling a need within Swindon.

"Home-Start submitted a bid but it did not meet the requirements of the tender because it does not cater for 0-18-year olds.

"We commission services based on need, rather than the individual requirements of an organisation. Swindon Home Start is an independent registered charity, which is responsible for raising its own funds."

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