Virtual Support Groups for parents are being run by our Outreach Team in Lambeth.
Since Lockdown started we have been working hard to reach out to the our parents in Lambeth. We have been recreating our weekly groups for parents is via the video conferencing service Zoom. For the last four weeks, we had weekly meetings. In one, we have been running a circle time for children and their parents.
Ayoola, who is one of our Young Parent Practitioners, has been on a massive learning curve,"When this Lockdown started we were really concerned about all the parents we support and help. We worried about them coping in isolation with babies and young children. Many of them live in flats and don't have a garden to let their children play out. They had lots of things going on before this started ranging from mental health worries, financial and relationship issues.
"For the first few weeks, we were working fast to try and figure out the best way we could support them. We had to get used to using digital and these new platforms fast. I'm not going lie, its been a bit overwhelming figuring out how to get these things to work and how we can make the most of them. But we are getting there. We were so happy when one of the mums we work with offered to do circle time with the children."
"We are trying out new ideas and ways of running things and learning all the time."
What's stopping some parents coming to our Virtual Support Groups
One of the issues we are working with is making sure parents can access the groups. Some of their phones and computers won't support the digital apps properly; there are issues with families not having enough data free to take part in our sessions. There's also the shift to the online session. Some of the mums and dads have been put off by the idea of other people being able to see them online. It's a constant conversation to see what is going to work best for everyone. Some are happy to chat using video if it's just 1 to 1.
Why are these Virtual Support Groups important?
Before lockdown, we were running 5 groups a week. These gave mums and dads the chance to learn new skills but often also provided some childcare, so parents could focus on themselves while the children got to build relationships with their friends.
We have always used food and cooking as a way of connecting. It meant parents who were really struggling financially would get a few extra meals a week to help with their finances. This is something that is really worrying us at the moment. We have been working hard to make sure everyone is getting hampers and foodbank vouchers.
Our teams have also been out delivering food to parents trapped indoors and unable to get out to the shops.
If you are a young parent or know anyone young parents under 25 in Lambeth who need our support we are still taking referrals, so please get in touch.
We can do one to one calls as well as offering you the chance to come to our virtual support group.