PARENT volunteers are needed to help the growing numbers of mums and dads in Bolton who need a helping hand.

Home-Start has experienced an increase in demand for services since the recession.

Home-start, which was launched in Bolton more than 20 years ago, provides families with a lifeline when raising children. Help is given to parents with children under five who are in need of support and guidance.

Caroline Bell, co-ordinator at Home-Start, which is based in Wood Street, said: “Parents are crying out for the service. We want people who can give that listening ear, practical and emotional support for families struggling. On average we are helping at least 60 or 70 families.

“We are providing support to get people over the rocky patches. We help single parents, the Asian community, a few families are asylum seekers and people who have been through Fortalice, where women have suffered domestic abuse.

“The people we help do not have to be from families with a low income.”

The charity will train any suitable volunteers over a 10-week course, which covers confidentiality issues, safeguarding of children, raising awareness of domestic abuse and listening skills.

The training has helped some volunteers to secure places on social work courses and others, who have received help choose to become a volunteer themselves.

Ms Bell said: “Most of the time people just want somebody to talk to who is non-judgemental without any family ties. We look at the volunteer’s background, the family’s background and the family’s issues.”

Volunteers can accompany families to children centres and other groups.

They can be men or women, but must be aged over 18 and parents.

Trustees and a chairman, who have experience in the social or voluntary sector, with time to give commitment are also wanted by Home-Start.

For more information email admin@homestartbolton., call 01204 362786 or 01204 381873 or go to the website