“Our volunteers are ordinary parents who have a couple of hours a week to spare to offer emotional and practical support to families. They want to support families at a time when they need it the most. Pre-COVID our volunteers would have gone into the family home to support parents, obviously now that has come impossible.”

Home-Start trains volunteers to support families with young children who are going through challenging and difficult times. They have had to tackle huge challenges this year due to the pandemic. Despite this, they are still finding ways to help the people who need it the most. As Deborah Millar from Home-Start highlights, they are another fantastic organisation who no matter the circumstances will continue striving to help those who need it. 

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“We have just started online counselling to parents, as during the first lockdown we could only take phone calls. Since then we have also tried to meet outside of the house doing socially distanced walks and we have bought passes for the families for soft play areas where the parents can meet the volunteers and chat while their children can play safely. Also, gym passes so parents can have an hour to themselves working out, feeling good, while volunteers take their children for a walk in the pram.”

This year with the pandemic that has hit the world, Black Santa has focused on helping charities that strive to tackle mental health issues, such as Home-Start. 

“One mother has said she hasn’t been out of the house since March. A lot of the services that were used before, just aren’t there now. That is why online counselling is so important because mothers can’t leave home to go to face-to-face counselling.”

As always, these charities do wonderful work that is so important for the local community. As we continue into the new year, the Black Santa initiative will be vital for these charities once again as we head into 2021. 

To find out more about Home Start Craigavon, visit their website here.