Local families charity Home-Start Wessex is appealing for urgent help to support young, homeless mothers who are dealing with mental health issues, depression, and the impact of domestic violence.

Following consultation with healthcare referrers and a gap in service provision in the area, the charity identified a great need for a new support group for homeless young mums in Dorset. A weekly support group was then piloted at a temporary hostel which houses 25 mothers and their children at any one time. 

Over the last year, more referrals have been received for parents living in these types of accommodations who are struggling with parenting due to their living circumstances (living in temporary homeless hostel), mental wellbeing, and isolation. The single mothers at the hostel are aged 18-25, living with their young children in small rooms whilst they await permanent social housing. As well as being homeless, they are under immense pressure and very isolated, struggling to cope with complex issues such as mental health difficulties, peri/post-natal depression, domestic violence, poverty, drug/alcohol abuse, parent/child attachment issues and loneliness.      

Caroline Pope, Community & Corporate Engagement Manager at Home-Start Wessex, said, “From meeting with the hostel manager and parents and observation over a number of visits, it was very clear that a new group would greatly benefit parents and their children by providing a nurturing environment to tackle isolation and reduce loneliness.

We piloted sessions to gauge interest initially, and 10 parents attended with their children. We asked each parent to complete a referral form and tell us about the issues we can help with. 100% had mental health issues, 80% felt isolated/lonely, 40% had postnatal depression, and 40% had suffered domestic violence.

Whilst there is a communal space, it is sad, joyless, and unwelcoming, so most of the mums stay in their small bedsit rooms. The mental health issues and a lack of confidence and self-esteem mean they are isolated and not engaging with each other or community family/children’s groups and services, missing out on vital socialisation.

The positive response to a weekly Home-Start group there has been overwhelming. But we cannot continue the group long-term without securing more funding. We know that this group is already transforming the lives of these children and their parents. Run by our highly skilled Family Groups Leader with volunteer support, this new group provides a safe and welcoming setting where young mums and their children can receive emotional support, make friends, and increase their confidence and self-esteem. We are appealing to the local community to help us raise the £10,000 we need to continue supporting families throughout 2023.”

What better investment could you make than in your local community, changing a child’s future through a better start in life?

If you think you can help, please contact [email protected] or visit https://homestartwessex.org.uk/urgent-appeal/