Thousand of families have 'hidden crises' charity says

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Thousands of vulnerable families in Wales suffer many "hidden crises" such as mental health or child behaviour issues, says charity Home-Start.

The home-visiting service said almost half the families its volunteers help have serious problems on top of the one for which they were referred.

It said professionals see only the "tip of the iceberg" of people's problems.

Home-Start last year helped 2,000 parents and 5,000 children through the 14 schemes it operates in Wales.

Home-Start Wales provides around 1,000 volunteers to hundreds of families facing difficulties as a result of illness, domestic violence or disability.

Start Quote

We rarely see families now that have one 'straightforward' issue”

End Quote Meira Owen, Home-Start Denbighshire manager

As it marks the 30th anniversary of its work in Wales, the charity said its research showed the families they help rarely have one "straightforward" issue which they need help with.

It found:

  • 49% of families have a mental health issue
  • 48% have problems managing a child's behaviour
  • 59% of parents said they felt isolated
  • 70% had self esteem issues

Chief executive Rob Parkinson said: "We work closely with professionals such as GPs and health visitors, who generally refer parents for one specific issue, for example a mother's post-natal depression.

"However the original issue is often just the tip of the iceberg and our volunteers are increasingly uncovering complex layers of problems including housing difficulties, domestic abuse and isolation."

Home-Start Denbighshire manager Meira Owen added: "We rarely see families now that have one 'straightforward' issue.

"Judging by our experience there must be thousands of families across Wales suffering from hidden crises."

First Minister Carwyn Jones is to present certificates of long service to 23 Home-Start Wales volunteers at the Welsh assembly later on Wednesday.

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