Home-Start Melton and Rutland is a local charity that supports vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ families with young children under the age of 5 who are undergoing a time of great stress.
It uses professionally trained volunteers who work on a one-to-one basis with families to build supportive relationships and to give children the best possible start in life. Home-Start Melton and Rutland also run group sessions led by a highly experienced family worker and supported by trained volunteers. Most families are referred to Home-Start by Social Services or by health professionals such as health visitors or GP’s. Families they support may be suffering from a range of problems such as economic deprivation, isolation and loneliness, physical or mental health issues, substance abuse, domestic violence or bereavement. Many families Home-Start Melton and Rutland work with are experiencing multiple and complex difficulties.
In June 2015 Mars in the Community’s Waltham branch awarded Home-Start Melton and Rutland £2,000. Funding was used to run a programme to promote a healthier lifestyle, focusing on education and encouraging exercise and a balanced healthy diet.
The healthy living programme was incorporated into group sessions which run weekly in Melton Mowbray and Oakham during term time.
Activities in the sessions included sharing economical and healthy recipes and keeping food diaries. Sessions also involved both children and carers in craft activities which educated the participants on portion size and a balanced diet. There were also tasting sessions for children that introduced a wide variety of healthy foods. Yum!
Group PE sessions for young children and their carers also took place where participants were taught action songs, rhymes and games! Carers were also signposted to local services and leisure facilities which would help them to maintain an active lifestyle with their families.
As a direct result of this project both young children and their carers have gained an improved understanding of how to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Children have been introduced to new healthy foods which have increased the range of their diet and adults have gained confidence in providing healthier meals.
Parents and carers are more aware of local facilities which can support a more active lifestyle and they have a better understanding of the importance of establishing good habits for their children at an early age.
By educating the parents and carers the benefits permeate through the whole family. Helping to support vulnerable families and ensure that their children have the best possible start in life in turn strengthens the community as a whole.
Helen Benzie, group organiser said, ‘Many of our families are on low incomes and said that they struggle to afford a healthy diet for their families. By providing them with ideas for healthier options and correct portion size for each child they were able to make small changes that will have long term health benefits.
Parents were asked to complete snack and exercise diaries which helped them to see exactly how much they were eating and exercising…comments back included ‘I didn’t want to eat biscuits and chocolates this week as I didn’t want to write them down’, she hadn’t realized how many snacks she was actually having each day. Below is a list that the families have put together when thinking of healthy snacks:
Cucumber- Pepper Sticks
In comparison to previously this is a huge change!’
If you would like to set up your own fund that works to support charities and groups in the local community, contact Katy Green, Chief Executive at Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org & 0116 2624 916.