Liz Stannard has become Home-Start Winchester’s new Senior Co-ordinator, stepping up to the top job after six years working with the family support charity and following the retirement of Anne Macpherson. However Liz’s promotion has become something of an ordeal by fire as she took over the role at the beginning of May in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.
We knew that 2020 was going to have its challenges for Home-Start but little did we know what was really round the corner. Covid has meant that we have had to stop all face-to-face visiting of our families in their homes and the closure of our family groups. We moved out of the office in Lanterns and set up working from home and quickly learned to Zoom.
In partnership with the Basics Bank, FareShare and Cook we started delivering emergency food bags to our families (over 300 to date) clocking up over 2000 miles in the process. Supporters of Home-Start have showered us with food, Easter eggs, crispy cake mixes, toys and books to distribute and we have been able to fund and distribute over 250 activity packs, said Liz.
Our amazing volunteers have come up with imaginative ideas to keep in contact with their families and together we have called, texted or video-called every family each week. We have also been able to chat on doorsteps whilst delivering which has been the only direct social contact for some families. We have posted ‘boredom busters’ and words of encouragement regularly on our Facebook page; provided washing machines, hoovers, nappies, clothes, paddling pools and more to those in need and supported families to get children back into school and nursery.
We have supported families who were shielding children and parents who were being shielded; seen families through relationship breakdowns, illness, chickenpox, mental health issues and new arrivals and been there for families living in high rise flats, one room in hostels and overcrowded homes. We have laughed and cried and been energised and exhausted in equal measure,” she said “and we even found time to fundraise.
We have been to appraisals, supervisions, family conferences, agency meetings, Home-Start meetings, met new referrers and got to know our supporting agencies much better all through the magic of technology. But above all we have done it together, not for the families but with the families. Their resilience and determination has been an inspiration to us and we have all felt it a real privilege to support them during this time, said Liz.
I would like to say a very personal thank you to Anne Macpherson for her gentleness, wisdom, and integrity, she said. For six years I had the privilege of having you as my guide and mentor. I learned the Home-Start magic from you and I hope to continue your amazing legacy as we ease towards a new chapter.
Liz has three grown up children and lives with her husband in Winchester. She trained as a physiotherapist and has worked in elderly care, paediatrics and adult learning disability. She left the NHS when her first son was born and, while bringing up three children, found time to become chair of St Paul’s community playgroup and church warden and trained as a breast-feeding counsellor with the National Childbirth Trust in Winchester. Later she worked at Western C of E Primary School where she supported children with special needs; trained as an emotional literacy support assistant and developed her role to become a pupil inclusion support worker, all good training for her future life in Home-Start.
Photo: Liz Stannard new Senior Co-ordinator for Home-Start Winchester