Local family charity Home-Start High Peak has had its funding prayers answered this month thanks to the award of £98,642 from BBC Children in Need. Spread over the next three years, the grant money ensures the charity will continue to operate, making a significant difference to the lives of disadvantaged children in the area.

Faced with potential closure in the coming months, after 12 years of operation, Home-Start began working on the complex funding bid in 2016. Having passed rigorous assessments and interviews along the way, it received confirmation that its application for a grant had been successful last week. Now the paperwork is all signed and the announcement can be made officially, the scheme’s manager and volunteer trustees are wasting no time putting plans in place to deliver FRED – Fun, Readiness, Equality and Development – the project they convinced BBC Children in Need to support from this July onwards.

In addition to its regular programme of support for families experiencing difficulties arising from things like post-natal depression, disability, bereavement, economic hardship, the illness of a parent or child, or social isolation, where its network of trained parent volunteers shares time, skills and experience with young families, FRED will support a further 25 High Peak families per year, specifically in the area of school readiness. It will also help train an enlarged number of volunteers to deliver the programme within their own communities, helping to give young children the best possible start in life.

Anthea Murfin, Home-Start High Peak’s scheme manager comments: “I can’t find the words to express my delight, or my gratitude to BBC Children in Need, over the announcement of this award. FRED will enable us to boost volunteer numbers and provide local, socially disadvantaged children with the skills, opportunities and self-confidence to interact, learn and engage with their peers and adults whilst having fun.

It seems BBC Children in Need agreed with our assessment that, regionally, there is a significant problem with developing children’s independence, confidence and social skills: something highlighted by eight in every ten of the families we support, many of whom cite feelings of isolation as a particular issue they need help addressing.”

Chair of the board of trustees for Home-Start High Peak, Neil Bent, adds: “For months now we have been hoping for the best while planning for the worst. One minute we’re contemplating closure, the next we’re planning a hugely important three year project which, fingers crossed, will provide a strong platform for us to build upon over the coming years, strengthening our position and ensuring that we’ll be able to continue making a significant positive impact on the lives of many people; young children, their families and older volunteers, in the High Peak.”

BBC Children in Need relies on the support and creativity of thousands of fundraisers and supporters across the UK who donate their time, money and energy to help raise millions for the charity. Whether raised by baking cakes, going on rambles, putting on quizzes or taking part in dress up days, all the money raised helps make a difference.

BBC Children in Need supports projects that work with disadvantaged children and young people aged 18 years and under living in the UK. Disadvantaged children and young people include those affected by: illness, distress, abuse or neglect; any kind of disability; behavioural or psychological difficulties; and those living in poverty or situations of deprivation.

In addition to constantly seeking additional funding, both nationally and at a local level, Home-Start is also keen to broaden its board of volunteer trustees and, with the award of this funding, the team urgently requires new volunteers to join its already amazing band of home visitors.

Individuals who are able to offer an extra pair of hands and a listening ear for a couple of hours a week, and who want to help prepare children for school as well as to provide non-judgemental practical and emotional support for parents, in addition to gaining new skills and enriching their own lives with the full backing of a 40 hour accredited preparation course, are invited to contact manager Anthea Murfin via anthea@homestarthighpeak.org.uk or on 01298 72777.