NPO Home-Start Japan

Home-Start Japan, one of our FIT 2019 beneficiary organisations, provides home-visit childcare support to families with at least one preschool child so that "parenting" does not become "isolation". We interviewed Ms. Yukie Yamada, Director and Secretary General.

FIT: Tell us about your background and how you got involved with the organisation.
Yamada: Home-Start originally started in England about 50 years ago, and in Japan it was started as a voluntary organisation in 2006. At that time, I was involved in creating opportunities and networks for cooperation between local child-rearing support groups and the government. I had heard about Home-Start from a former representative, and realised this system actually functions well, with people who want to help others to actually be able to help, and help link the government and non profit organisation together. Although it is a volunteer activity, it is also characterised by a solid process, such as assessment, monitoring, and evaluation, that enables the user to notice positive changes even within a period of about two months, which makes volunteering feel worthwhile. I think it is unique that it is a support that values the connection and feeling between people and has rationality.

Before I got involved with Home-Start, I was working in the local Shinjuku ward joining a sub-committee to support child-raising and education of youth. It was mainly towards high school and university students, but as I got involved, I started to be aware of the life cycles from issues at each life stage. I started to think that the most important time for parents was right after childbirth, when a child’s life had just started and so has a person to become a parent. Many of the worries and problems that children face as they grow up are related to low self-esteem. Relationship between parents and a child during infancy has a great impact on their child's later life, and that impact continues even when that child becomes a parent to raise their children.

FIT: Tell us about the challenges and rewarding experiences since you got involved with the organisation.
Yamada: Most of the members have jobs to support child-raising in their local communities, or have other jobs to do, and must juggle their time volunteering for Home-Start Japan's activities. Therefore, it is difficult to coordinate everyone's strength, energy, emotions, and time so that we can achieve maximum results. However, 10 years have passed since the start of the activity, and friends who have accumulated experiences all over the country have come to join as new members to lead the activity.

Publicity is what we are still struggling from the beginning. We are not good at using SNS, but we must use it more.
It is difficult to make the Home-Start known to isolated families, but also volunteers have their own life cycle, such as the start of having to care for their parents or the birth of their grandchildren, hence new volunteers also have to be constantly recruited. To become a volunteer is not difficult and it is only a kind of neighborhood support, but people seem to think it may be too difficult for them. We’d like to come up with an easier, one short phrase like commercials that symbolise our activities.

FIT: Were you able to utilise the FIT donation?
Yamada: Due to Covid-19, there were many areas where the activity was suspended until May. The activity has been gradually revived since June. The publication of a publicity booklet has been somewhat delayed, but we are making good progress collecting information online. We had been working remotely somewhat so we are not greatly impacted by the pandemic.

FIT: What are your prospects?
Yamada: As the active area is still limited, it is important to increase the number of activity bases. We are currently working on a plan to increase the current number of regions from 105 to 200. By having local residents who have experience raising children to become home visitors, the scope of visiting support will expand and the ability to raise children in the community will be enhanced. In addition, a cycle in which parents who use our support may later become supporters themselves and will lead to the creation of future-oriented communities that can support the growth and raising of children throughout the region.
Fundraising is also an issue because we don't have enough financial resources to realise it. At present, there are only a few general donations, so we must create a system to raise awareness of our activities and get support.

NPO Home-Start Japan