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'Neither a professional nor a friend': the liminal spaces of parents and volunteers in family support

Fisher, JC and Lawthom, R and Mitchell-Smith, Zinnia and O'Neill, Teresa and McLaughlin, Hugh (2018) 'Neither a professional nor a friend': the liminal spaces of parents and volunteers in family support. Families, Relationships and Societies, 8 (2). pp. 249-266. ISSN 2046-7435

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Abstract

Home-Start is a family support charity whose delivery model is a national and global example of how targeted volunteer support can benefit parents, carers and children experiencing difficult times, in both domestic and other spaces. Parenting support continues to be a key policy area for the current UK government and other policy-makers across the Global North. In this article we draw on qualitative findings from an ethnography of a Home-Start organisation in a city in the north of England. The theoretical framework of liminality, a space between social structures, allows for an appreciation of the ambiguous nature of supporting parents in the private domestic spaces, and the ways in which this support enables parents and families to move forward. The article has broader implications for global social care and social work practice, specifically demonstrating the importance of the relationships between parents and volunteers in the every day, and contributes to the literature on liminality.

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