HOME Start Glasgow South team are celebrating more than two decades of supporting families in the local community.

The family support charity, based in Pollokshaws Burgh Halls, is celebrating its 21st anniversary as a group on June 21st.

Over the past 21 years, Home Start Glasgow South has helped an astonishing 5,000 families, and in particularly 11,000 children, in the South of the city.

Colette Boyle, director of the charity, said: “To make it to 21 years, it’s just fantastic.

“As a charity, it really is a testament to the work of our volunteers, trustees and staff but also to the thousands of families that have put their trust in us to help.

“One of the best things to see is when the kids and families you’ve helped 20 years ago come back and volunteer or become a trustee. Last time you saw them they were a child and now they are adults!

“It really shows how ingrained in the community we have become and how many people have relied on us over the past two decades.”

Glasgow Times:

Home Start Glasgow South is a branch of the national Home Start group and, since launching in 2000, has become the largest support group in Scotland.

The team offer help for a range of issues such as isolation, mental health difficulties, bereavement, family breakdown, addiction, physical ill-health.

Families are been offered services such as home visiting volunteers and tutors, intensive family support, school family support and one-to-one support for dads, among a range of others.

However, the team at Home start Glasgow South and their 70 volunteers were forced to make quick moves to facilitate support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saqib Abbasi, assistant director, said: “Over the past year we have been getting increasing numbers of referrals, and we expect these numbers to increase again over the past few years in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“Our approach to support has been changing over the past five or six years - where we used to only offer peer support, we have started to take a more holistic approach to helping families and children.”

Colette added: “When the pandemic hit, it was a big, big adjustment for us, but we were lucky enough to be able to make the switch to online and digital support.

“We were given funding to hand out tablets and wifi hotspots to those who were digitally excluded, because we quickly realised that even if we put our support online, people needed to be able to access it.”

Colette and Saqib also say that Home Start Glasgow South were in a unique position as an organisation, with statutory support groups such as Social Work unable to stay present during lockdown.

Saqib said: “As a mid size charity group, we are still able to keep that one-on-one touch to our support, which was a particularly important during lockdown.”

Colette said: “We were able to see people in person when lockdown was lifted a bit but it made a big difference even just being able to speak over Zoom and be able to see the family and the children.

“Where Social Work couldn’t access these families, we had a chance to see them and how they were getting on.

“I think these larger statutory organisation really did rely on groups like us being on the ground and having that contact during the height of the pandemic.”

One of the biggest challenges for the group going forward, however, will be funding.

READ MORE: Glasgow couple steal hearts with St Enoch's dance to band

While referrals expected to increase again, Saqid has spoken about the importance of making sure small to mid-sized charities are supported.

He said: “We’ve been going for 21 year and in an ideal world, we would be going for another 21 years, if not more, to support the community but that can only happen if we are supported.

“We have seen around a 20% to 30% decrease in funding already and that looks like it is going to decrease further is the third sector isn’t supported properly.”