Sutherland Shire mums are being given a helping hand through the Orana Early Support Program.

This story appeared in the St George Leader Feb 12, 2016

Maxine Lambert, of Sutherland Shire, is a busy mother-of-three who sometimes needs an extra helping hand.

She is one of the many shire parents who have benefited from the Orana Early Support Project.

The home visiting project links volunteers with parents of babies and young children ages zero to three who have been identified as needing extra assistance.

Volunteers support people who may be isolated, going through a crisis or at risk of postnatal depression by providing hands-on support such as child-minding.

The project helps descrease social isolation and promote social inclusion of shire residents and families.

Ms Lambert was appointed a volunteer helper in August, and said they had become friends.

Orana Early Support Project is looking for extra volunteers.

Project coordinator Melissa Philbrook said: ‘‘We don’t have an atypical volunteer, but our only real requirement is that the person have parenting experience or extensive experience caring for infants and young children’’.

The main duties include offering support to new mums, providing respite— and advice— when asked.

‘‘It is similar to what an extended family member would provide,’’ Ms Philbrook said.

Volunteers are asked to commit to around two to four hours per week for a minimum period of six months.

The project is available to families in the shire. It also provides outreach services to families in Bundeena.

Free training for new volunteers will take place at the beginning of March.