Dr Oliver James, psychologist, sends us this appeal:
International Volunteering Day (5 December 2008) gives us the opportunity to celebrate the contribution that is made around the world by people who selflessly give their time in support of a cause they believe in.
I personally would like to celebrate the many thousands of parents and grandparents in the UK who volunteer for Home-Start and help struggling families cope during a difficult time in the upbringing of a young child or children.
Home-Start understands the fundamental importance of meeting the needs of children. It's a simple idea that really works parent volunteers matched with other parents who are struggling with issues such as post-natal depression, multiple births, isolation and disability.
The current credit crisis means that families everywhere who already face difficulties will be under additional pressure. Yet, freedom from money worries is not the solution. Evidence shows that once a family earns enough to meet its basic material needs (about £15,000 a year), it makes no difference to levels of happiness or mental health how much more they have. What matters is the relationship you have with your parents in the early years.
That's why I am appealing to ICN readers to support Home-Start's Real Parents campaign, which is encouraging parents to volunteer their time to help other parents who are finding it hard to cope. They're not looking for super nannies just ordinary parents who can offer some support.
By volunteering just a couple of hours a week you'll not only be making a difference to child's life but will also reap the huge personal benefits that come from helping others. To find out more about the Real Parents campaign and how to become a Home-Start volunteer see: www.realparents.org.uk or call 0800 068 63
Dr Oliver James