THE Mayor of Winchester has praised the work of a city-based charity that supports struggling families.

Frank Pearson was the VIP guest at Home-Start Winchester’s AGM where he spoke of his own life experiences.

He also described Home-Start’s work with struggling families as “the light at the end of the tunnel”, giving hope to parents and changing the lives of children.

The meeting heard from mum-of-three Candis, who revealed that she suffered from a progressive auto-immune disease and whilst coping with chronic pain and fatigue, her youngest child was rushed to A&E at four weeks old where he was diagnosed with a milk allergy and reflux.

Numerous visits to hospital followed, with no medication appearing to work.

Eventually the solution was to feed him every hour – or up to 20 times a day – with one ounce of milk.

Candis said: “My health was suffering and I lost most of my friends as it was impossible to leave the house. Completely isolated, my health visitor recommended Home-Start.

“In those two hours each week he was extremely happy in [volunteer April’s] care and I was able to have a bath or do housework.

“It is safe to say that the whole Home-Start team has wiped my tears and picked me up when I have been at my lowest point. Their kindness and compassion has been invaluable.”

In her annual report, Home-Start Winchester chairman Liz Cooper revealed that during the year the charity had supported 49 families with a home-visiting volunteer, and a further 27 families through family groups.

Seven new volunteers were trained with another five are helping in weekly groups.

Ms Cooper added: “We have also been able to continue to run a counselling service for two families thanks to the generosity of an ex-volunteer.

“In spite of the many changes in the world of family support provision and a massive reduction in funding opportunities for small charities, our trustee board has remained constant, committed and very hard working.”