The role Home-Start North Dorset plays in helping vulnerable parents

PUBLISHED: 11:51 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:51 13 March 2017

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto


Jenny Kretz, Chair and Founder of Home-Start North Dorset reflects on the important role this local charity plays in supporting vulnerable parents who are struggling for a wide variety of reasons

In June I will be relinquishing my role as Chairman of Home-Start North Dorset, after seven very rewarding years. I established Home-Start North Dorset having met the charity’s founder, Margaret Harrison in Leicester when I was training as a Health Visitor. I was so inspired by her and the simplicity of the idea that parents could help vulnerable parents that I set up Home-Start Chorley and South Ribble when my husband’s job took us to the North West. It still exists today as Central Lancashire.

When we moved to Dorset, I was involved with The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Guys Marsh Prison and the Women’s Refuge. I could see that there was an important role that a local Home-Start could play, and four people who had been on the Monitoring Board with me agreed to set up a scheme for North Dorset. Today we have 33 home visiting volunteers with an average of 20-25 families being supported at any one time.

Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family support charities. 269 branches operate across the UK offering support to parents struggling at home. There are many reasons why parents of young children need help and our services support anyone. Examples include; rural isolation, money problems, the challenges of child-rearing, housing issues and abusive partners. Families are normally referred to Home-Start via professional organisations or you can self-refer. Being self-funded, we can offer the service at no cost to families. Every Home-Start has a scheme organiser who recruits and trains local volunteers, all of whom are parents. They are matched and work with families in their homes.

We have been helping Rachael for the past 12 months and she describes her volunteer as a ‘lifesaver’. Rachael had succumbed to depression for years and had been setting herself impossible standards each day. She struggled to get out of bed and would spend all day in a local café to escape. Reluctant at first to accept help, Rachael was introduced to her volunteer who slowly but surely re-built her life. She encouraged Rachael to take her children out and taught her how to interact with her children whilst setting herself more realistic targets each day. This has paid off and with her new-founded confidence, Rachael has re-decorated her house, has learnt to cook and paid off nearly all of her debts. Despite the tragedy of coping with her new baby being born stillborn last year Rachael has learnt to appreciate what she has. This is what she wrote to Home-Start: “I owe you so much. You helped me at exactly the right time and put everything back into perspective that had got so lost and jumbled along the way. This is a wonderful organisation that has so much to offer to families that sometimes need it!” 

Get in touch

If we can help you or someone you know, or you’d like to get involved or make a donation please email or call 01258 473038. Visit

About Jenny Kretz MBE

Jenny Kretz, is Chair and Founder of the Home-Start scheme in North Dorset. She has lived in Child Okeford for 18 years. Her interest in the criminal justice system led to her 11 year involvement with the IMB at Guys Marsh and to issues around domestic abuse. She was awarded an MBE in 2015 for her volunteer work within Dorset and beyond.


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