Home-Start West Berkshire

Giving Children the Best Start in Life

About Us

Home-Start West Berskshire recruits and trains volunteers from the Borough of West Berkshire including Combe, Hungerford Newtown, Upper Lambourne in the west to Newbury in the South and Burfield, Theale and Pangbourne in the east. We carefully match our volunteers with an appropriate family.  All of the families we support must have at least one child under five.  The volunteer visits the family in their own home once a week.  Families tell us what a huge difference it makes to their lives to have that support at a time of need, often describing our volunteers as “a ray of sunshine” or a “life-line”.  The best part of our work is to see the children start to thrive again as the volunteer helps the parents work through their difficulties.

Home Start West Berkshire was established at the beginning of 1997. We are located at Greenham Common Trust’s offices in Northbrook Street, Broadway House. This gives us a central location ideal for enabling both our families and volunteers to call in at any time.

The Scheme covers the many rural communities in West Berkshire, including but not limited to; Hungerford, Lambourn, Kintbury, Aldermaston, Burghfield, Theale, Pangbourne, Compton and The Ilsleys.

Home-Start West Berkshire is affiliated to the national organisation, Home-Start UK, but we are  autonomous and responsible for our own management and our own funding. Home-Start UK provides advice and support through a regional consultant together with a stringent Quality Assurance review process to ensure the scheme operates effectively.

The co-ordinators, managed by Grace Ryder, maintain a team of volunteers providing this much-needed support and befriending service to families with at least one child under the age of five years. Each volunteer is asked to visit one or two families, once or twice a week for a couple of hours each time.

To complement the home-visiting service five Family Groups have been set up for families to meet together for moral support.

The Scheme is managed by a Trustee Board of representatives from local statutory and voluntary agencies, representatives of the volunteers, and independent members.

Home-Start West Berkshire employs 4 part-time co-ordinators, a part-time Administrator, a part-time play-worker and a part-time cook. We have currently approximately 40-45 volunteers, supporting up to 60 families at any one time.

It is funded jointly by the Big Lottery, Children in Need and a multitude of other grants and donations, and is an independent registered incorporated charity, No.1111171

Meet the Home-Start West Berkshire team

The Home-Start West Berkshire Team comprises of the following people:

Grace Ryder

Grace is our Scheme Manager. She previously joined Home-Start as a volunteer and became Scheme Manager in September 2016. Grace is responsible for the overall management of the scheme.

Julie Kaesser

Julie joined the team in September 2011 as a Family Co-ordinator, having previously volunteered for us as a home-visiting volunteer. She now supports families & volunteers across the region. Julie has done extra training and specialises in Perinatal Mental Health, supporting parents suffering from mental illness through our PND Support Group and Parent and Toddler Group.

Clare Watkins

Clare joined the scheme in May 2014. As our team administrator she is responsible for the smooth running of the office.

Clare Gumley

Clare joined as a volunteer in 2011. She then became a member of the team as a Family Co-ordinator. She now works with families and volunteers as well as supporting our Home-Start Group Families.

Sara Kordowski

Sara joined the team in December 2016 as a Teenage Parent Co-ordinator. Sara supports teenage parents help to build their confidence and to access local services.

Lucy Walton

Lucy is our Group Cook and is responsible for providing a healthy family meal every Wednesday at our Greenham Group.

Rena Fuell

Rena is our Family Group Worker.