My name is Diane Hammal. I have worked in Children’s Services for 36 years and ten of these years were spent in the Disabled Children’s Service. I was born and educated in Birmingham and after a short residence in Cumbria and Durham, I moved to Richmond in 1968 and have remained in the area since that time. I am married and have four children and five grand children.
Shortly after I retired in March, 2015, I became a volunteer Trustee for Home Start Richmondshire.
I became a Home-Start volunteer following a long career as a Primary School teacher. 'Giving something back' to the community was the main motivation for seeking a volunteering role within Home-Start.
As part of the training all Home-Start volunteers have to attend a preparation course. The course was thorough and I particularly enjoyed meeting other volunteers.
The role of a Home-Start volunteer is interesting, varied, can be frustrating but is very satisfying. As a volunteer you are a friendly person giving practical and emotional support to young families in their own homes. Being welcomed into their lives is a great privilege.
Home-Start volunteers are well supported with help and advice only a scheduled meeting or phone call away.
I really enjoy my role as a Home-Start volunteer; being able to make a difference to a young family is a very rewarding experience.
As well as my Home-Start volunteering role I enjoy holidays, meeting up with friends, going to the cinema, and have recently started lessons to improve my French conversational skills. Keeping fit is an important part of my life. I keep active walking, attending line dancing classes and playing badminton, a sport I have played competitively for many years.
Being “kidnapped” to the North by my husband’s change of career led me to Home-Start as a way of both getting to know the local area/people while utilising my childminding experience of many years to hopefully help others. The ability to get people to open up and thereby see how to help themselves is rewarding to me as well as giving them confidence.
With my three offspring having fled the nest the job gives both purpose and reward when you can see the difference you can make.
I heard about Homestart on BBC Woman's Hour when my children were of school age. But I remember thinking - "I would have loved a Homestart volunteer when my children were little, when I felt isolated, lonely and unsure of my parenting abilities..... I'm going to do that one day." I had some other things to do first but I began volunteering for Homestart East Cheshire in 2012. While living there I volunteered with two families each with different but long-term challenges. I was sad to leave them when it came time to move house, and I still keep in regular touch with one of them. In Homestart Richmondshire I have volunteered with three families, again with varying challenges and situations. I enjoy volunteering and find it really gratifying to see 'the Mums' making progress in their confidence and outlook. It has increased my confidence in being able to communicate better too. I feel well supported by the Homestart team and the training days are excellent. I also love playing with the children!
A young neighbour introduced me to Home-Start who thought I might enjoy it; she was right, as I do!
Newly retired, I considered how to use my extra time and current energy to do something new and beneficial. How little did I know how much benefit I would gain in the process.
From the initial interview, which was more a friendly chat, I have felt a sense of fun with professionalism, warmth with the strength, creativity and determination to help in the most appropriate way for each family’s request.
In a relaxed setting, the prep course enabled me to learn about the scheme, expectations of volunteers, which are realistic and achievable, in a totally experiential way. This supportive tone continues through the regular Supervision and I feel valued and capable.
I support the families by being ordinary and taking the time to listen as well as I can, remembering and following up on interests. By valuing the parents and their children, it seems to help them do that for themselves too and feel supported.
Semi-retirement seems to have reminded me of past interests like music and trying new things so I now sing with the local “Singing for Pleasure” ladies and am learning the ukulele, as well as circle dancing which uses the most gorgeous international music. Being outside is important to me and I get out every morning if possible and walk with a walking group, which seems to be becoming a theatre group. I have become quite a regular at The Station Cinema in Richmond and I love my book group, especially when we have different opinions of a book. I try to be involved with the community with some communal gardening and volunteering in the Primary school. My own garden is lovely too and is awaiting some attention.