The Duchess of Cambridge visited Brookhill Children’s Centre in Woolwich to learn more about Home-Start and its support for children and families.
The Duchess attended a briefing with Home-Start’s Chief Executive and the Centre’s manager, hearing about the work the charity does to support families to cope, improve confidence and build better lives for their children.
Her Royal Highness then attended a coffee morning where she met families who have been supported by Home-Start and listened to their experiences. The Duchess viewed volunteer training session in which volunteers are taught how best to offer practical and emotional support in a family’s home to help children make the most of nursery or school. Finally The Duchess visited the onsite Together for Twos’ crÃ¨che to meet families and staff.
Volunteer Christie Osborne, 49, was among those The Duchess spoke to at the coffee morning.
Ms Osborne said: "I told her she is beautiful and that she's got a tiny little bump. I asked when her baby is due and she said mid-to-end of April."
She laughed as Ayo, a three-year-old boy in the centre's creche, presented her with a card made by children as he exclaimed "Ta-da!"
The Duchess asked the confident little boy: "It's a very big card, isn't it? What's on the front?"
Ayo replied: "It's a flower!"
Agnieszka Cierpol, who works with Ayo at the centre, said: "He comes in every day for three hours. He's a very bright child and from the beginning he could talk. Most of the children here have problems - they can't speak or they have issues with their social skills - but he is very smart."
The Duchess also received a goodie bag for Prince George, embroidered with his name and a bouquet of flowers.
Marvellous Nyanhi and her son Tinashe handed over the presents, which included an Elmer the Elephant book, a potty training booklet and a colour-sorting clock.
Ms Nyanhi, 35, from Plumstead in south east London, said: "The Duchess had a chat with my little one and she asked about the colour of the flowers. She asked me why I'm here so I told her I was a supported family at first because I was in a really bad place at the time, but now I have trained to be a Home Start volunteer."
Home-Start is one of the UK’s leading family support charities. It recruits and trains volunteers to support parents with at least one child under the age of five. The charity was set up in 1973 and now has 288 local Home-Starts supporting more than 29,000 families and more than 63,000 children each year. One of these is
Home-Start Greenwich which has been running since 1993 and last year supported 200 families and 350 children.
Across the UK nearly 15,000 volunteers visit families in their own homes ”“ parents supporting other parents in a variety of situations including isolation, mental ill health, bereavement, multiple births, illness or disability. Home-Start volunteers tailor their support to the specific needs of the parents and children of each family they support. Home-Start also runs family groups and social events for families in order to give children the best possible start in life. Home-Start runs four of The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s 24 children’s centres, helping the borough fulfil is aim of providing local support for local families.
The children’s centres in The Royal Borough of Greenwich offer a range of services under one roof for young children and their families. Those services include early-years education, childcare, family and parental health services, and employment and training advice for parents. The services are provided by a number of public sector and voluntary sector organisations, and are managed on behalf of the Royal Borough by four commissioned organisations including Home-Start.
Home Start chief executive Rob Parkinson said: "People will have felt that their contribution to family support is really valued because of her visit and that's the most important thing for me.
"The Duchess had a nice chat with of a couple of mums and they were able to share their experiences, forthcoming or otherwise."