Kids Matter online

We’ve seen Whatsapp groups thrive during online programmes as parents rally around one another as they have bad days or exciting behaviour breakthroughs with their kids.

Running Kids Matter programmes online seems almost counter intuitive to the relational ethic of not only the way we run groups but our organisation as a whole. Typically, mums, dads and carers sit in comfy chairs around a table with hot drinks and tasty snacks – laughing, crying, hurting, learning, sharing and growing together as they work through our evidence-informed programme material. And after the 6 weeks it takes to complete a Kids Matter programme, parents – now friends – continue to meet, chat and support one another through the challenges of parenting.

The ensuing question is how, then, can an online parenting programme enable community in the same way that we know our in-person groups do?

During the pandemic, when we were all pivoting to greater or lesser degrees, our online programme was born and was a lifeline for many parents who were alone in lockdown, home schooling their children and feeling the stress of the moment. We were keen to get back to in-person group meetings as soon as we could, and a couple of years post-pandemic online programmes seemed a thing of the past. Until we forged two incredible partnerships.

In 2023, Kids Matter partnered with Safe Families and Children Heard & Seen to run our programmes…online!

With a vision to create relationship and connection to curb loneliness in communities, Safe Families links children, young people and families with local volunteers who can offer them support. Our parenting programmes fit neatly within support network facilitated by Safe Families, and we have already run two online programmes with mums and dads referred by Safe Families, and are keen to run more.

Children Seen & Heard provides support and interventions for children with a parent in prison. By partnering with them to run our programmes, we are able to come alongside not only parents in prison but families impacted by imprisonment, increasing the chance of children living full, happy lives.

We aim to have parcels that include our booklets as well as a little treat delivered to parents before the start of the first session, as a way of replicating the hospitality of the in-person groups. Facilitators and group helpers will also encourage an informal, chatty atmosphere so parents feel comfortable sharing. Ben, who co-facilitated our most recent online programme with Children Heard & Seen said:

The easy win with running Kids Matter online is that it is accessible to so many more mums, dads and carers. Anyone can join! There may be families who would love parenting support but there are no programmes running in their community. Other families may be isolated or confined by logistical issues but joining a Zoom call by phone is totally doable. The obvious challenge is that forging relationships onscreen is trickier. It’s much harder to read a room and adapt to the flow of conversation on a Zoom call. There is the risk pf parents disengaging, which would mean that they don’t really benefit from the material or wisdom in the room as others share examples, ideas and brainstorm how to manage difficult situations in their homes and families. And then, it’s not like anyone can meet up in the park for a chat at the weekend while their kids play on the swings.

So yes, there are positives and negatives but, in our experience, the opportunity for parents to join a group outweighs all the challenges. One mum who completed a programme said that in the past she’d had support and community from her neighbours but these days her neighbours don’t even say hello! Having the online group really helped her feel a sense of belonging.

There is so much value in being acknowledged. We’ve seen Whatsapp groups thrive during online programmes as parents rally around one another as they have bad days or exciting behaviour breakthroughs with their kids.

Other parents who’ve completed our online programme have said:

Our programmes equip parents with the tools to build strong relationships with their children, which in turn gives children the best chance to flourish in spite of their circumstances. These kinds of stories from mums, dads and carers suggest our evidence-informed materials, combined with peer-to-peer sharing online or in person, impact parental confidence and competency.

If you would like to volunteer as a group helper for one of our online programmes, please do get in touch at We’d love to hear from you!

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