THE work done by HomeStart in the Central Fife area helping young families meet challenges was praised by Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing in a debate at the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Ewing spoke in a debate in the Parliament brought by her Fife SNP colleague Jenny Gilruth, congratulating Home-Start Glenrothes on its 21st anniversary.

Ms Ewing echoed Ms Gilruth’s words of praise for the role Home-Start has played in the lives of countless families over the past 21 years and went on to congratulate Home-Start Cowdenbeath, highlighting the fact that it will be just a few years behind Home-Start Glenrothes in celebrating its 21st, having started up in July 1990.

Speaking in the debate, Ms Ewing said: “Home-Start Cowdenbeath, which has an office on Cowdenbeath High Street—diagonally across from my constituency office, in fact—serves the area covering Ballingry, Lochore, Crosshill, Glencraig, Lochgelly, Lumphinnans, Kelty, Hill of Beath, Crossgates and of course Cowdenbeath itself.

"Its focus is on enabling parents and carers to be the best that they can be, in recognition that there are a lot of pressures on parents, and particularly on young parents.

“Home-Start Cowdenbeath adopts a very person-centred approach in the family support that it offers, which can include one-to-one support around perinatal mental health problems, increasing breastfeeding through local support groups, and getting children into the outdoors through, for example, the promotion of gardening activities.

“Home-Start Cowdenbeath seeks to get fathers involved in antenatal workshops and, in general, recognises how important it is that fathers are part of the process from the outset. Home-Start also seeks to tackle loneliness and isolation, particularly among young mothers. Groups are run specifically for under-25s, to provide a forum where young mothers can chat freely and hopefully gain some confidence."

The MSP added:“However, it is important to note that home visits remain at the heart of what Home-Start does. "After an initial meeting with the family to discuss their specific needs, Home-Start will match the family to a volunteer. The help that is given is unique to that family and will depend entirely on the circumstances of the case, and a decision on what is needed for that family. A key element is building the family’s resilience so that they are better able to cope in future with the challenges that they face.

"Sadly, many challenges are faced today, particularly by young parents, in my constituency and that of Jenny Gilruth, and indeed across Scotland, further to the great difficulties that Tory austerity is inflicting on our population.

“At the same time, Home-Start volunteers play a pivotal role in helping families to access local services such as housing, or mental health services.

“I pay tribute to the staff of Home-Start Cowdenbeath, who I had the pleasure of meeting some months ago. I was hugely impressed with their dedication and determination to make a positive impact. Those workers do a very challenging job, and it was clear that it is also emotionally draining; they do it extremely well and make a huge difference to the lives of many families in my constituency.

"Finally, I also pay tribute to Home-Start’s fantastic army of volunteers, without whom all of that great work would not be possible.”