Our ABCD Best Start community builder for Waddon, Natalia, met a local mum of 3 at her Ideas Fair in December 2016 in Minster Nursery and Infants School. She was a very open, caring and giving person. Already part of a small group of mums who visit each other houses for breakfasts and get togethers, where they get to share their struggles and happy times, this mum felt that the group was now ready to share their knowledge and experience with the wider community (some of them are midwifes, others have different professional qualifications).
Their vision is to have a common place where parents and children can meet, socialise, distress and share their problems, a place where they can find a person to call a friend. The aims of this support group will be to have:
* A place where all are welcome and can have a good laugh to reduce tension because in her view a problem shared is a problem half solved
* A place where both parents and children feel important and listened to
* A place with no judgement but understanding
* A place to find direction and offer all the help available if needed.
Parents in this group will be encouraged to share their daily challenges and experiences in order to help others going through relatively similar problems. The group will try to help reduce loneliness that lots of parents feel by offering friendly atmosphere and environment. All combined with different pampering sessions to help parents feel good and positive about themselves.
The sessions will also include fun sessions for the children to learn different cultures through story time, music and play, they will explore other languages from around the world. So, watch this space as the project unfolds!
Our Community Builder in Upper/South Norwood Nicky made initial contact with a Buddhist temple for the Vietnamese community. The temple was used extensively at the weekend but was empty during the week, with only one nun left living in the building,who was keen for the building to be used more by the wider local community, but was not confident in her English to make links with other potential users. Through contact with the temple, the Community Builder met a local parent called Seth,who had trained as a teacher of meditation techniques and, as a Buddhist, wanted to offer free mindfulness and mediation sessions to the local community.
The Community Builder talked through Seth’s idea of mindfulness sessions, and learned that the inspiration for the idea came from a ‘Peace in the City’ event he had attended in north London. This event had been a chance for people of all cultures in the community to come together and take part in sessions around the theme of peace- through activities, relaxation and mindfulness. This gave Seth the idea to put on a similar event in Crystal Palace, using the community space of the Buddhist temple. Over the next few months, during the course of the ABCD work, the Community Builder made contact with local people who had interests along the theme of mindfulness and peace. Through one of her Community Connectors she met Lucy, a local mother and baby massage teacher.
Through the CVA, she contacted a lady called Devaki who offered dance and yoga. Through the local Barnardo’s centre, she met Nicola who offered ‘Sound Bath’ session. Nicola also had a new job as the Community organiser for the Crystal Palace Festival. The Crystal Palace Festival is an annual event that had grown year-on-year to such an extent that they were now able to include a series of community events in the run up to the main festival on the 17th June. This will be an opportunity for local community groups to showcase what they do across the wider Crystal Palace area. A ‘What’s On’ guide is to be published for these events and will be distributed to 12,000 homes.
After putting Nicola and Seth in touch with each other, the ‘Peace in the City’ event will now go ahead on the 11th June as the ‘kick off’ event of the Crystal Palace Festival. A subsequent outcome is that Seth was also able to offer mindfulness sessions to mothers at an event on Mother’s Day that Nicola had organised. Pressing ahead with his own sessions, Seth has now made some links with schools and, as a result, 200 pupils are due to visit the temple and learn mindfulness techniques in the next 2 weeks. Following on from these school visits, the Community Builder will put Seth in touch with Andrea, a local playgroup leader who was very keen to take the children to visit the temple, as her ambition was to “provide the children with as many interesting and varied experiences as possible”.
Our ABCD Best Start community builder Melissa, after speaking with local parent Kimona and identifying there was a high interest in having a forest school in Thornton Heath, joined up forces with another Croydon parent, Suzy, a trained forest school teacher, Croydon Council, local connectors and parents as well as community organisations to organise a pilot event in March 2017 in Grangewood Park.
Demand was so high that a second session had to added and a waiting list set up in case anyone dropped out. There were 45 families attending on the day, mainly preschoolers with their parents. Due to the continued interest of local parents in the forest school, some further sessions were arranged during the Easter Holidays in Grangewood Park and also at couple of other locations North of the borough, Beulah Heights and Biggin Wood.
The forest school has generated a real excitement in Thornton Heath with parents talking about starting up a bug club and utilising the local woodland for more outdoor activities!
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