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Home-Start Lorn is bidding a fond farewell to its manager of the past 24 years.
Aileen Binner had intended to phase herself out of the post gradually and retire next summer (2022). However God had other plans as the North Connel mother and granny of three has joined Argyll and Bute Presbytery where she will support congregations in the Mid Argyll and Kintyre areas.
‘I have three passions in life,’ she told us.
‘My family, my faith and Home-Start Lorn. I was all set for retirement and then this post came up and I couldn’t not go for it.’
Over the past two decades and more Aileen has worked with hundreds of young families in and around Oban and Mull by matching a volunteer to provide them with weekly support.
‘I have been with Home-Start Lorn since April 1997 and after all that time I can honestly say, I still love my work,’ she told us.
‘When then chairperson Elizabeth Carson phoned to say that I had the job I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. From the moment I heard about Home-Start I was drawn to the whole idea of making a difference in the very simple way of a parent being with another parent.
‘In the 24 years I have been with Home-Start I have become even more convinced of the benefits of friendship and a friendly role-model.’
Aileen still remembers visiting her very first family and has stayed in touch. The mother of that family has both volunteered and worked for Home-Start.
‘I have met many families who were reluctant to accept a Home-Start volunteer – they felt it suggested they weren’t good parents,’ added Aileen.
‘Yet, after agreeing to ‘try it’ for a few weeks, they were all very happy to continue.
‘I’m proud that Home-Start offers support to anyone – we have supported nurses, teachers, lone parents, doctors, recovering drug addicts, anyone for whom a couple of hours with a friendly face can make a difference – and you cannot imagine what a difference those two hours make.’
Although, excited about her new challenge Aileen leaves Home-Start with a heavy heart but does so in the knowledge that the charity is probably in the best position it could be moving forward.
She added: ‘We have an excellent board, our funding is such that we did not have to ask Argyll and Bute Council for a grant this year and there are plans to develop work with families even before baby is born.’
Mark Feinmann, chairman of Home-Start board of trustees, said: ‘Aileen is a very active contributor to the Lorn community and over the years has worked with hundreds of young families in and around Oban and Mull by matching a volunteer to provide them with weekly support.
‘At a difficult time in many families lives, her input has been a lifeline. After 24 years her shoes will be hard to fill and we wish her all the very best for the future.’
As well as throwing herself into her new role, Aileen’s plan is never to grow up, and in an effort to stick with her plan, she took up roller-skating two years ago. When she’s not behaving badly, she likes to read and knit.