About Us

About Us

Home-Start MAJIK is a local independent charity which has been set up to give friendship, advice emotional and practical support to families who have at least one child under the age of 8. Home-Start believes that children need a happy and secure childhood and that parents play a key role in helping their children to achieve their full potential. We are working towards a day when all families in the Mid-Argyll, Jura, Islay, Kintyre, Cowal and Bute area are supported by their community and know how and where to get help when in need. Our name, MAJIK, comes from the area we serve, Mid-Argyll, Jura, Islay, Kintyre, Cowal and Bute.

Our Values

Our values guide everything we do, from how we support our volunteers to the assistance we provide for families over the course of each year. We lead by example in everything we say and do and take a pro-active approach to our vision.We strive to be the best we can, we celebrate our successes but anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.


We value:

  • Leadership
  • Excellence
  • Collaboration
  • Integrity
  • Commitment
  • Partnerships

We value acting responsibly at all times as much as we value openness and are non-judgmental in our work. We do all we can to achieve our mission, supporting and developing those involved in our charity to be independent and take the initiative.
As a local charity, Home-Start MAJIK can be flexible in its approach to individual families to ensure the best and most relevant support is provided. We have established positive relationships with many other local organisations that provide support for families. Through these valuable links, we can help families to gain an understanding of, and access to, the different support agencies that are available to help them, such as such as:Target Community

  • Doctor’s Surgeries
  • Midwives
  • Social work
  • Local Schools and Playgroups
  • Local Faith Groups
  • Health and Wellbeing Networks
  • Drugs and Alcohol Services
  • Women’s Aid
  • Rape Crisis
  • Benefits & Financial advice 

Through these partnerships Home-Start MAJIK is able to keep up to date with local developments and therefore able to ensure the service we offer meets the needs of the local community.


Home-Start MAJIK began as Home-Start Kintyre  in 1995 with the support from Campbeltown Area Development Group and the local Health Board. The inception of the charity was to be a preventative service to support families with very young children, and to help take up local services, thus preventing family breakdown. In 1998 the service was extended to Mid Argyll and shortly afterwards to the islands of Islay, Jura and Gigha. In 2007 the provision in service was extended again to cover Cowal and the island of Bute

Meet The Staff And Trustees

Home-Start MAJIK is governed and managed by a group of Trustees. Trustees are all unpaid volunteers who come from a range of backgrounds and communities across Argyll & Bute.

Trustees work in partnership with staff and volunteers to support families and to give children the best start in life. They are appointed on the basis of their interest in Home-Start MAJIK and by their skills.

Roles and responsibilities are defined through Home-Start UK training, to make sure Trustees have the necessary qualities, skills and knowledge to govern effectively and responsibly ensuring that legal and financial obligations are met.

Our Staff

Dee Hancock

I have been a Senior coordinator in this area for four years.Dee Hancock I am happily married, the second time around, and am Mum to 4 children, two of whom are step children and they are now all teenagers. I have a degree in catering, personnel and some units in Marketing which I believe help me to relate to and understand all types of people. I have trained as a Rape Crisis counsellor and an Assistant Suicide Intervention Officer. I am also a Child Exploitation On-line protection officer and trainer, and I am qualified as a Safe Talk Trainer, to help parents discuss sexual issues with their children. As part of my role I support pupils in Rothesay Academy with life skills and enabling them to work & study more efficiently.

The role of Senior coordinator is a busy and challenging one, and one that I really enjoy. It is about being non-judgemental and helping and enabling people bring about any changes that they want to make in their lives. We offer choices and support people in their decisions.

Children do not come with a parenting manual, and there is no right way or wrong way to raise a child. Each of us brings our own unique life skills and experiences to the art of effective parenting.

I wish I had heard of Home-Start MAJIK when I was a single Mum. My parents wanted to help but could not because of ill health. An extra pair of hands or a visit from a friendly face once week would have helped my mental health and allowed me to look after myself a bit better.

Bringing up children is challenging but it should also be rewarding,enjoyable and fun and if we can help parents to get even a small flavour of those bits then we have managed to help.

Sharon Erskine, Acting Manager and Coordinator 

My name is Sharon Erskine and I will be coordinating for the Cowal Area of Home-Start MAJIK.

sharon erskine photo website take 2

I believe passionately in promoting positive environments for our children to grow and thrive in and for that reason alone I have chosen to use a baby photo of myself for this Blog. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in a home where I was not only loved unconditionally but also valued and respected. I now have a large family of my own and have discovered over my 20 years of Parenting that life has a habit of tossing in the odd curve ball. As parents we don’t always get it right and being “Good Enough” Is what counts. Supporting families while they deal with life’s challenges is a real privilege and I look forward to working with the Team and Families at Home-Start MAJIK

Kelly Coats , Coordinator – Kintyre

My name is Kelly Coats and I will be coordinating for the Kintyre area for Home-Start Kelly CoatsMAJIK. I was born in Wick, Caithness and lived there for most of my life, until moving to Campbeltown 10 years ago and it is now where I call home. When I left school I did a variety of jobs whilst studying with the open university. I then went on to university full-time at Paisley and obtained a BA in Social Policy and Sociology. I am delighted and honoured to be working with Home-Start MAJIK, as I feel it is very important to give back to the community. I cannot wait to meet all the families and volunteers and to continue the great work of a fantastic organisation.

Melissa McCrossan, Administrator and Coordinator(Cowal)

I am single Mum raising 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls aged from 7 to 14 years.Mel McCrosson I was Chairperson at the children’s nursery for 3 years and I help to run the infant library and book fairs at my local primary school. Recently I joined the PTA at Dunoon Grammar School.

It is my belief is that being involved in the community is key to a better future for our children. It is really rewarding doing my job and to be able to see the real benefits being brought to families in the community I live in and care about.




Ishbel Exley, Chairperson, Personnel Sub Committee, Health and Safety and Child Protection

Ishbel ExleyBorn in Inverness and left there when I was 10, but have spent most of my life in Denny. On leaving school I trained as a teacher for 5 years. I married and spent time with my husband on the ships. We went on to have 3 children and with my husband away for 5 months at a time I often felt like a single Mum. The support of family, friends and groups I joined showed me that I was not alone and there were other Mums like me. They also showed me the benefits of having that type of support and how important it was to me and my children. I have worked as a supply teacher and with support role with a child with autism. This sparked interest in new fields and ended up with me running the faculty for language disordered children with special needs.

I have enjoyed being a Beaver Scout leader for 12 years, a lot of organisation but great fun. In 2011 I took early retirement and moved to Tighnabruich. My children are now adults with fulfilling lives in various parts of the country and we enjoy are life here and being a holiday centre for friends.

Michael O’Donnell, Vice ChairmanTrustee

A retired Deputy Head teacher, previously worked in LochgilpMichaelO'Donnellhead High School for 25 years Consequently has has considerable understanding of older children. Considers his communication and interpersonal skills to be important tributes.


Peter Cartwright, Trustee

My main area of clinical practice in the NHS was in working as a psychotherapist with people presenting with complex trauma. Although formally retired from the NHS I still work for them 3 or 4 days a month in a training capacity across issues as diverse as personal safety, gender based violence, recovery, mental health, self harm, suicide, recovery, child development & attachment, personality disorder, dementia, etc. I also continue to work as a psychotherapist in private practice.

In addition to my work as a Trustee with Home Start MAJIK I am also a Trustee with Argyll & Bute Rape Crisis. I have also previously worked with the Children’s Panel and am currently a member of Kibble Panel for their Intensive Fostering Service.


Alan Gerrish, Trustee


I started my working life in Norway before returning to Scotland to raise a family and retired in 2011 from a career in NHS clinical and public health dentistry as Director of Dental Services.

My daughter and son are both married with 3 children each, and, as a resident baby-sitter, I can say I have some understanding of the ups and downs of raising children.  My work also provided close experience of the difficulties faced by those who find themselves in challenging personal and social situations, and highlighted the need for co-ordinated support from external agencies to help support vulnerable groups and improve their life chances.

I think that Home-Start MAJIK is an excellent initiative in providing this support to families in the area, and helping to ensure that, from the earliest age, children might be able to develop to their maximum potential.  I am pleased to have the chance of working with my colleagues to help further these aims.


Jackie Wesby – Trustee  jackie

I am a widowed Mum of two adults, and granny of 2 young boys. Born and educated in Sheffield, I moved abroad with my husband and spent 20 years in South Africa. I have enjoyed a number of positive opportunities in my life which have allowed me to work in a variety of roles which included Police Officer, pre-school teacher and sub-editor of a local newspaper. Much of my working life has focused on children and young people and their wellbeing and development.

During a period of several years when my young son fought cancer, I became very involved with my husband in forming a charity which provided support to similar families in an area where there were very poor resources for this purpose.

After my husband’s death, I returned to Scotland in 2000.  As well as working for the local authority as school’s attendance and welfare officer for Cowal, I also became a member of the Scottish Children’s Hearings System in an effort to contribute towards making positive changes for children and young people about whom there were concerns.

I understand the challenges that parenting can bring, regardless of the socio-economic background, and champions the importance of support and encouragement for families who are under pressure or having difficulties coping, for whatever reason. The opportunity to become involved as a trustee for Home-Start MAJIK will hopefully allow her in some way to further support the children and families in my community.