“I know that a small amount of acceptance, affirmation and listening can really change everything and set parents off on a new course, which has positive effects for years.”
I just love running Kids Matter programmes! That moment when a parent has turned off the telly and seen a reduction in aggression in their child, or sat around a table for a meal with the whole family for the first time, having told you at the last Kids Matter session that that was an unreasonable expectation – brilliant! Small changes, big effects, happier and more confident parents, and secure kids.
I came to facilitating parenting groups from a GP background and the trials of the extreme exhaustion of my own three small children, which at times felt like it might finish me off. I recognise the signs of this in the parents I meet, who are dealing with this time of life in far less secure circumstances than my own, and I know that a small amount of acceptance, affirmation and listening can really change everything and set them off on a new course, which has positive effects for years – even to the way their children will parent their families in the future.
I love the programme materials – they are conversational, colourful, informal, searching and sharing, with goals and ideas that are achievable. I also love being based in one community – now that we are on to our fifth programme, we are experiencing keeping in contact with parents over the months in different contexts as their children grow; toddlers, church, school, community centres and just out and about but all in the same community. It’s priceless, a real treasure which allows God to work slowly and thoroughly through the every day lives we lead and what we are able to manage as volunteers.
I work with the wonderful Trenna Blundell who is based at St Stephen’s, Southmead, whilst I am linked with the church through Redland Parish Church in another area of Bristol. We have run programmes in the church, at a local primary school, and have plans in the the pipeline with local school nurses and a children’s centre. There have been bumps along the way – recruiting for the crèche is challenging, and it’s tough when people with chaotic lives just don’t turn up but we both believe in the slow, steady, relationship-centred way, and we can see God working steadily through that, which is very exciting. Be encouraged, we are doing amazing work!