How soon will a volunteer be matched with a family?

We aim to match a family and volunteer soon after the initial visit. However, the availability of volunteers varies greatly throughout the year, depending on how many new volunteers have been recruited, the amount of referrals received, the speed of DBS checks etc.

The matching process is done with sensitivity and may take time. We believe that the key to our success is ensuring “the right match” is made.

If a family stipulates that they are only available on a certain time on a certain day this can also delay the match.

If there is likely to be a long delay before we can match a volunteer with a family, we will keep in touch with the family on a regular basis. We will also inform you, the referrer, and endeavour to link the family with other appropriate services.


special_needs_girl_aHow long does a volunteer stay with the family?

  • On average, Home-Start Southwark aims to supports families for 6 months. However, this may vary according to the needs of the family.
  • Volunteers visit once a week for 2-3 hours and we aim to enable the family to get through a difficult patch & move on.
  • For our Bump to Babe project, volunteers can visit twice a week to provide extra support.
  • Where the difficulties are ongoing, we may help the family link up with other agencies that provide extra support.


What is the role of the volunteer?

The volunteer can offer friendship, encouragement, emotional and practical support. They will work alongside the family, enabling them to find their own way forward and help them to widen their support and social network.

The volunteer may:

  • provide a listening ear or an extra pair of hands when visiting.
  • help the family to get out and about – to shops, park, local parent and toddler group and get to appointments (GP, clinic, hospital etc.).
  • help parent to liase with other agencies (housing, benefits).
  • keep the children occupied (within the home) while mother has a rest, or catches up with housework or phone calls.
  • offer practical tips on how to deal with challenging behaviour; create activities to imporve children’s learning.
  • demonstrate the importance of play and offer support around early reading.

Please note that the volunteer cannot do housework, bathe children, change nappies or baby-sit.
The volunteer will not either stay with a child while the parent goes out, or take the child out without the parent/carer.


Attending case conferences

It may be helpful for the family’s co-ordinator to attend case conferences or Team Around the Family meetings. The volunteer can attend if invited to do so by the family , as a friend for moral support. The volunteer should not be asked to speak on behalf of Home-Start Southwark at a Case Conference or similar meeting.


For more information or if you have any questions about volunteering please contact us on

0207 737 7720 |