Home-Start Worldwide Tokyo Conference: Our Blog

15 November 2017

DAY 1

The conference got started at the United Nations University in Tokyo with a formal welcome from Home-Start Japan President Dr Yasuyuki Saigo and Evi Hatzivarnava, chair of Home-Start Worldside and based in Greece.

In day one co-ordinators, volunteers and representatives from interested local organisations around Japan came along to take part. A great deal of discussion and interaction was possible due to the excellent quality interpreters who kindly assisted.

Speakers from Japan, South Africa, Uganda, Australia and the Netherlands gave stirring presentations about their work. An interesting discussion was held reviewing the different child protection issues facing South Africa and Japan in terms of legislation and common practice. Elizabeth Young, Director for Strategic Development, Home-Start UK highlighted the impact measurements and academic studies which evidenced Home-Starts significant role across the globe in terms of family support.

The afternoon finished with an excellent afternoon tea with tables laden with sweet treats brought by guests from all over the world attending the conference.

A very sociable day indeed with lots of common interests and positivity. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

DAY 2

Conference day two started with a presentation from Elizabeth Young, Home-Start UK about the Big Hopes Big Future project which we at Home-Start Aberdeen have just started to pilot in Scotland. Elizabeth highlighted the evidence based success of this support for families to prepare for starting early education. She talked about a new exciting initiative relating to early language recognition which is piloting in four English schemes at the moment and we look forward to following this with interest.

Madu Dissanayake, chair of Home-Start Sri Lanka spoke about their family nutrition project which was extremely positive and had many parallels with our own Recipe for Life project. Feedback from the Sri Lankan project has been really strong but concerning to note the levels of malnutrition within the families they support.

Betty Munoz, National Director, Home-Start Czech Republic shared an important project developing support via play for families. This support is particularly helpful in families where parents have had challenging lives themselves often growing up in old style institutions where opportunity to play was not available and as a result they themselves have not understood the importance of play for their children's early development. Some very strong feedback in terms of child development and parent/child attachment have been recorded. This programme is in the process of being licensed for sale to other agencies.

The rest of the morning was focused on getting our message across to funders and decision makers. Our Home-Start Aberdeen presentation was well received together with other scheme promotion examples from Kirpal Dhadda, Home-Start Worldwide Trustee and manager of Home-Start Barnet (London) and Marie Claude Richer, Director, Home-Start Quebec.

The afternoon offered a choice of presentations. My own choice was a workshop on supporting change, facilitated by Beatrice Larson, Franklin Investments, followed by a presentation on the development of Perinatal support in both Japan and in Glasgow, both showing excellent results for this early intervention. The day finished with a presentation from Berit Yding Sorensen, Home-Start Denmark national team on developing formal partnerships with local authorities.

A very long, exhausting and fact-filled day. The support and conversation with worldwide colleagues was inspirational.

DAY 3

Another busy day at the Home-Start Worldwide conference....

Day 3 started with looking at volunteer training across the globe. Michelle McDonell, CEO Home-Start Australia led some fun interactive group sessions. Again a great many commonalities across the different continents and a strong desire for our volunteers to be the best trained and best respected for their important role.

Tanya McCagerty, Director, Home-Start Calgary presented some excellent information on increasing awareness of early brain development. She kindly shared materials with the group to take away and provided other website information for further reading.

Home-Start Denmark has completed a large piece of work looking at the skills of co-ordinators as trainers and have developed a variety of tools to enhance the volunteers training experience and range of activities. Definitely some excellent ideas that I hope to introduce to our scheme in Aberdeen.

Yet another amazing lunch arranged by our Japanese hosts (see photo). We have been so well and truly spoilt during our visit.

In the afternoon we were looking at the vital topic of fundraising. The session opened with a fundraising strategy session by Morton Ronnenberg a consultant from Denmark and also a Home-Start Worldwide Trustee. I then gave my second presentation of the conference highlighting the development of our Aberdeen fundraising strategy and some of the challenges we face. A very positive response from colleagues.

After this the group broke into 3 parallel sessions on the following topics:

Corporate fundraising through event organising - Marie-Claude Richer, Home-Start Quebec

Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen with a focus on our special afternoon teas - Gette (Aberdeen)

A donor management case - Tine Jerris, Director, Home-Start Denmark.

A really big shout out to our Friends of Home-Start Aberdeen team, Ally, Sandra, Annie and Rosie. Everyone was very impressed with their work and Yukie Yamada, Director, Home-Start Japan asked to keep the photos and planning information to share with her Japanese colleagues.

Each session was 20 minutes and repeated 3 times to small groups.

After coffee we finished the day looking at Quality Assurance and Data Management. All agreed this is vital but also discussed the challenges of gathering data in certain countries especially those with limited internet access and extremely remote locations in particular some of the smaller rural African schemes.

A real sense of community and friendship has been present all week. Relationships developing, good practice is being shared and all are brought together with a strong desire to ensure that all children have the best start in life wherever in the world they are born.

I feel so honoured to have been part of this group. Tomorrow there will be no report as the day involves the Home-Start Worldwide AGM and other Japanese scheme visits. The next Worldwide Conference will be held in 2020, no definite location confirmed yet.

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