MUMS and their children had a special guest when they attended a Felpham centre this week.
The mothers and youngsters at the Home-Start Arun weekly session were joined by the Duchess of Norfolk.
The duchess is the charity’s patron and went along last week to see its work at the Felpham Children and Family Centre.
She said she was impressed by what she had seen. “These are fantastic facilities.
“They are really light and bright with lots of colourful toys.
“It’s looking after the families as well.”
A mother of five grown-up children, she gave Home-Start her continued backing because of its work with families.
“It’s about helping the mums and dads to give them the skills they need for their families,” the duchess said.
“It’s fundamentally important to help families to bring up children. It’s the hardest job in the world.
“As a society, we need to help families. That support is really important.”
Home-Start Arun’s manager, Bridget Richardson, said: “It’s really good having the duchess as our patron.
“She is a mother and really appreciates what mothers need.”
Home-Start’s sessions at the centre take place from 9.30am-11.30am on Mondays.
“The parents come out and have these sessions. It gives them a real chance to start making friends and sharing their experiences,” she said.
The sessions have up to ten parents with some 16 children a week.
“Towards the end of their year with us, we start to introduce them to more mainstream mother and toddler groups.”
Parents are referred to the centre by their GPs, or they can put themselves forward. Those who go along with their children are looked after by two members of staff and four volunteers.
Last September saw the duchess host a tea party in the Collector’s Earl Garden at Arundel Castle where she chatted to parents and played with their children.
The centre is among many services around Bognor which Home-Start Arun offers to families with children under five. This includes those struggling with loneliness and isolation, relationship difficulties, coping with multiple births or several pre-school children, ill health, disability or special needs and lone parenting.
Home-Start volunteers are from different backgrounds and vary in age, but they all have parenting experience.
They visit parents in their homes and are selected for their friendliness, practical approach and understanding, providing a confidential service.