To the community of South Leeds I would like to nominate a parents and tots support group I run based at Two Willows children’s centre called Together with Tots.
We are a non profit group funding solely by myself to help and support other parents within our community with issues around raising children from birth to four years.
We run fortnightly groups for two hours and within that time we have an hour’s play time with various activities (sometimes themed) and then an hour with a professional guest speaker ie a health visitor, midwife or housing officer. The parents together nominate a service or difficulty they may be having and I find the appropriate service/ person that could offer help and advice in such matters ie weaning, toilet training or self esteem and anxiety. I then invite the guest speaker to come along to chat and offer information, help, advice and support in an informal, relaxed setting over a drink and cake.
I started this group in September 2017 after being a vulnerable single parent for many years. I’d felt isolated, lonely and unable to ask for help. Too afraid to contact services for fear of judgement and stigma.
I then took part in a short course to help mums with self esteem and confidence issues called “Best Start support group”. Through the course it became very apparent to me I wasn’t the only parent to feel this way which saddened me greatly.
So after some research I set about organising a group that would be open to all parents and carers no matter age, religion, culture or gender. I didn’t want to discriminate or pigeonhole anyone due to their personal choices.
I wanted a group where parents/careers could be around others in similar situations and with similar questions and difficulties. Where they could relax and chat alongside like minded people who all want the same thing which is to be the best parent/career we can be. Where they could gain information, advice and support from professionals in a relaxed approachable setting and with reassurance from peers.
So as it currently stands I provide refreshments ie drinks, cake and biscuits as well as healthy snacks and fruit bowls for all the children. I also use my own personal phone to contact various professional and I design and print leaflets and posters to advertise.
We have organised themed weeks. For example at Christmas we had a dance party with Santa and all the children received a present. Everyone had a wonderful time including myself.
We are a strong vital part of the community in Beeston and already have a wonderfully diverse and cultured group with approximately 15 adults plus children too.
There is no other group like Together with Tots in our community helping like we do and because of that I would absolutely love it to continue and grow but sadly without funding I’m not so sure how long I can personally sustain the running.
I have so much planned for 2018 from fitness activities and themed events to day trips out which will benefit not only the children but those who suffer with anxiety.
I have experienced first hand the dark depths of loneliness and despair, I want to do everything in my power to prevent others suffering the same pain and I feel my group helps prevent that.
Happy parents equals Happy children.
You can contact Together With Tots via Two Willows Children’s Centre, phone: (0113) 270 6166.
This post was written using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.