Referral numbers to a Suffolk-based family support charity have more than doubled in recent months - and volunteers are needed to keep the services running.

Home-Start in Suffolk supported more than 575 families between April 2020 and March 2021, but demand is rising and the charity is calling for more people to sign up and volunteer in 2022.

Training is given to those who come forward so that they can help families with children up to the age of 12 through a range of issues, including loneliness, domestic abuse, bereavement, disabilities, poverty and more.

And the charity says that in recent months, due to various consequences of the pandemic, referral numbers to Home-Start have more than doubled.

Tara Spence, CEO of Home-Start in Suffolk, said: "The last few years have been really difficult for everyone, and we have seen families hit hard as a result of the pandemic in a many different ways.

"We hope the New Year might inspire people to consider volunteering. It has a huge positive impact, not just on the life of supported families, but also for the volunteer themselves.

"Volunteering is associated with higher levels of wellbeing, better general health, improved life satisfaction and is a fulfilling way to help your local community. It creates a sense of purpose, promotes routine and the most important of all, makes people feel happy.

"Home-Start works because it is such a simple yet powerful concept. Volunteers are matched with a family, then visit or call them once a week to provide vital emotional support and practical help.

"New Year is a time when people often re-evaluate their lives and goals, so it would be amazing if people could put volunteering on their to-do list."

East Anglian Daily Times: Home-Start in Suffolk volunteers celebrateHome-Start in Suffolk volunteers celebrate (Image: Big Fish Photography)

Volunteer Ines, who joined the organisation in 2020, said: "I have experienced anxiety and depression myself and I know it can be really hard and challenging.

"Even though being a parent is the most rewarding thing ever, it can be tough and sometimes you want someone to speak to and Home-Start volunteers are there to offer that support.

"I really want to give the best support I can to Suffolk families, and I love being part of the team."

There are home-visiting volunteer opportunities or a range of other volunteer roles either in person or remotely via phone or Zoom, including in administration and fundraising.

Find out more about volunteering for Home-Start in Suffolk by calling 01473 621104 or visit