Sarah-Jane and her husband are parents to two boys, aged one and two. She is also pregnant with her third child, a baby girl, due in the next month. Sarah-Jane was referred to the parenting course by the Children’s Centre and has developed a good relationship with her tutor. She has had social services’ involvement with her children as she is from care herself, and suffers from various learning difficulties, including autism. Sarah-Jane has spoken openly with the group about the abuse she suffered whilst in care, and how she feels this has impacted on her own parenting. She has no contact with her family, however, she loves being a parent and wants to do everything exactly right, which can cause her to become quite stressed and upset if she feels this is not the case.
Sarah-Jane can become very anxious and nervous if things change in her group and we have worked hard to build her confidence and help her expand her friendship circle. She now has a good group of friends who also attend the parenting course, and they regularly meet up outside sessions. They are all very understanding of Sarah-Jane’s individual needs, which has really helped her gain confidence – so much so that she recently had her hair restyled and was happy to show everyone in the group – something that just a couple of months ago, she would never have done.
Sarah-Jane joined the group in September 2014, first completing the Level 1 Award in Caring for Children. She enjoyed it so much that she then progressed onto the Level 1 Certificate, giving her more topics to cover such as Health and Safety in the Home, Communication with Children and Positive Behaviour. The work can be difficult for Sarah-Jane to manage, but with the support of the group and a little one-on-one attention, she has progressed nicely and has produced some amazing work. She takes great pride in presenting her work.
Sarah-Jane has become so much more confident in her abilities; she is now able to voice her own opinions and ask questions when she doesn’t understand something. She is becoming more aware of her son’s individual needs and that of her new baby and is proving Social Services wrong by continuing to provide a safe and stable home for her children. Because of Sarah-Jane’s dedication, the parenting order on her children has been removed. She is absolutely overjoyed by this outcome and wants to continue her development and success with more courses in the future.
Chris is 34 years old and dad to five children. He does not have custody of any of his children but is currently following court proceedings to gain custody of his youngest daughter, who is in foster care. His older two boys are also in foster care and has visitation with all three together at set times throughout the month. The two oldest children see their dad on separate occasions as they are cared for by their mother. Chris has been in several relationships and his five children are from three different relationships. He openly admits to not doing the best for his children in the past and to not making good choices. Chris did not have the best start in life himself and his own childhood was not good. Therefore he did not have an appropriate role model to learn from.
Chris suffered from depression as a young man, which led him to turn to drugs and alcohol. His life spiralled out of control and he lost his job and family. However, when both of his children’s mothers also lost custody, he gave up drugs to concentrate on being a dad.
Determined to prove himself as a father, Chris started custody proceedings to get his youngest child out of foster care and living with him. He worked hard to get his job back and moved into a shared house for stability. He has regained his physical health and works out regularly to keep fit.
Chris joined Parents with Prospects in January 2015. He has almost completed two units and has successfully gained an outstanding parent assessment after gaining knowledge in cooking with children, which was part of the assessment.
The Parents with Prospects course that Chris attends covers Health and Safety with Children, Positive Behaviour, Communication and Literacy with Children and Managing Money. On completion, Chris will attain his Level 1 Certificate.
As a result of his determination and hard work, Chris has successfully halted the adoption process his daughter had embarked on, and continues to fight for full custody. His parenting knowledge has grown tremendously and his newly gained knowledge has seen his confidence in his parenting abilities grow immeasurably. Chris has come a long way and continues to thrive under his new found knowledge.
Kim had her first child at 17 while leading a very unstable and unhealthy lifestyle. She smoked, drank alcohol and took drugs throughout the pregnancy, and although she tried to give up these things when her baby was born, the pressures of being a teenage mother proved too much and she relapsed. The father of Kim’s baby was unknown and a number of subsequent unhealthy relationships lead to an unsuitable environment for a baby. Stress and an inability to cope with her situation led to Kim being unable to give her baby the proper care needed. As a consequence of these combined factors, Kim’s baby was placed in care and eventually adopted.
Five years later Kim discovered that she was pregnant again. The father is known by Social Services as having a background of violence and a criminal record. As a result of this and Kim’s history, a care order was placed on her unborn child.
Determined to be a better parent this time, Kim enrolled on a Parents with Prospects course. She is on track to complete her qualification within the next few weeks and has commented on how useful she has found the sessions. Kim has made friends with other young mothers on the course and takes inspiration from them in her quest to become a good parent. She keeps in contact with her new friends outside the course and feels that she is replacing the negative, destructive acquaintances of her past with more positive and caring relationships.
Kim’s Level 1 Certificate includes a unit which covers healthy lifestyles for parenting. As a result of her participation and knowledge gained, Kim has given up smoking cannabis and significantly reduced her smoking. While discussions with Kim’s social worker indicate that there is continued concern for her baby, our parenting course forms a vital link in Kim’s progress as a parent. Having very recently given birth, Kim is keen to return to the sessions, bringing her child with her. She would also like to continue with other parenting units once her Level 1 Certificate is complete.
Kim’s social worker considers her commitment to the parenting course to be very positive and a source of hope for the future for her baby. Discussions have been held about the possibility of Kim progressing on to Personal Development units, with particular emphasis on relationship.
Support and guidance will continue to be provided for Kim throughout the parenting courses as she finds her way to becoming a good parent.
Josie is a young mum to a two-year-old son. Although a loving mother, Josie leads a haphazard lifestyle. With a desire to improve her parenting skills, Josie has embarked on various parenting programmes in the past, but her rate of absence, poor timekeeping and difficulty in managing a weekly schedule meant that she never completed any of the courses.
Josie enrolled with Parents with Prospects and initial discussions on previous attempts and courses indicated that she became easily distracted during sessions with a low level of concentration so she quickly lost interest and motivation. A few weeks into her Parents with Prospects course, Josie commented on how interesting she was finding sessions, explaining that the range of learning activities helped her to stay focused, learn and retain information. This was pleasing to hear and Josie’s attendance had been good, although she had been late arriving on occasions. During a review, we discussed Josie’s time-keeping in more detail and she explained some of the difficulties she was having, which made the morning routine of getting herself and her son ready. We talked through the use of a ‘Good Morning’ list to help ensure that the important morning routine things were attended to and the many distractions were dismissed. We went on to discuss the importance of being on time for the sessions, not only to avoid missing out on some activities but also the disruption it causes to others in the group. Josie was keen to improve her time-keeping skills and be thought of as a reliable person so she tried out the ‘Good Morning’ list and found that she was able to get to the sessions on time. In fact, as the course progressed, Josie started to arrive early for the sessions.
Josie completed the 16-week course and achieved the Level 1 Certificate, which made her feel very proud. Centre staff, who had known Josie for some years, commented on how impressed they were that she had succeeded in completing the course as she had a history of giving up very easily.
Josie wants to go on and complete further parenting units with us and has also requested to do the Work Skills course, in order to improve her chances of finding part-time work.
Sara is a single parent to a two-year-old daughter. She loves being a parent and her life revolves around her child. In her quest to become a devoted parent, Sara started to neglect her own needs by failing to take prescribed medication on a regular basis, which had a detrimental effect on her energy levels and weight. Sara’s social life and circle of friends had slowly diminished since becoming a mum and although she had a good relationship with her sister and parents, she realised that she had no real friends anymore.
Sara was referred to the parenting course by the Children’s Centre and started the sessions, feeling very anxious and nervous. However it was not long before Sara struck up a friendship with one of the other learners in the group, Kim, another single parent, who, like Sara, had found herself in a situation where she had very little time to herself outside of being a mother. Within a couple of weeks, both Sara and Kim commented on how great it was to have two hours to themselves, knowing that their children were being well looked after in a room down the corridor of the building. The childcare facility also provided an opportunity for Sara’s little girl to become accustomed to spending time away from her mum. For the first couple of sessions, Sara’s daughter became upset and cried at the separation. This was difficult for Sara to deal with at first but, with the support of the group and staff at the Children’s Centre, she worked through the transition and, as the course progressed and Sara’s daughter started to enjoy attending the crèche, Sara’s anxieties disappeared.
After completing the Parenting Award, Sara went on to complete a short Work Skills course. In the sessions, Sara was able to identify her transferrable skills and qualities, and explore how these related to suitable areas of work. Through this activity, Sara discovered two areas of work that she was interested in and which suited her skills and qualities. Sara commented on how motivated and focussed she had felt, even after the first session of the Work Skills course. The course not only looks at achieving work related goals but also at setting personal goals, which may need to be addressed first in order to open up the opportunity to work. As a result of this, Sara started taking her medication correctly and on a daily basis and after just week, had seen a difference in how she felt. Sara also started to look into local children’s nurseries to provide childcare for her daughter, which would enable her to get a part time job or do voluntary work to build up her experience.
Sara has now become a parent representative at the Children’s Centre and takes responsibility on designated days for planning and delivering activities to a small group of children. Sara is researching local companies and is looking forward to September, when her daughter attends nursery, allowing her to start a part-time job.
Amy had to move from her home to a new area with her two children as her partner was extremely violent and controlling, putting her and her children at risk of harm. Amy was referred to our parenting course through the Children’s Centre.
Amy is a well organised person, who carries an air of responsibility and gives the impression of being very confident and self-assured. In the initial session of the course, which looked at how a child’s health is affected by a parent who smokes, Amy became very defensive and was verbally confrontational on the matter.
However, in a later one-to-one session, Amy was able to lower some of the barriers she puts up as a defence mechanism and explained how last year she and her two children had spent Christmas and New Year in a women’s refuge, with no money, no friends and no hope. During the session, Amy went on to talk about her childhood, describing how her father was an alcoholic and had died when she was a teenager. Amy explained how, at that time, her mother was not a supportive parent and so she lost her way in life, bouncing from one toxic relationship to another. However, despite these difficulties, Amy dearly loved her children and having them gave her the determination to make a better life for herself and her family. Amy’s journey to parenthood has been a tough one but her sense of responsibility and determination has shone through. Amy’s past difficulties have given her reason to be protective and, at times, defensive.
After getting back on her feet and establishing a safe and happy home for her children, Amy started to feel a desire to return to work. Amy harboured a wish to work in childcare but realised that she would need to gain a relevant qualification in order to pursue her dream and, despite her tough exterior, she felt daunted by the prospect of this. Completing the Parenting Award gave Amy the confidence and motivation to sign up for a Level 2 Childcare qualification, alongside a course with work experience.
Lisa had two children when she was younger and in an unhealthy relationship that placed her and her two children in a vulnerable and unsafe situation. In addition to this, Lisa’s own childhood was not good and the ties with her own family had been severed. Lisa had no role models to provide guidance and support in being a parent. As a consequence of these combined factors, Lisa’s two children were placed in care and eventually adopted.
Lisa moved on with her life and is now in a stable and loving relationship, recently married. Lisa was over the moon to be pregnant again and keen to prove that she was responsible and capable of being a good parent. However, her previous experiences in parenting and the intervention of Social Services had left Lisa feeling low in confidence and desperately worried that her baby would be removed. Due to prior events, a care order was placed on Lisa’s unborn baby.
Determined to show that her situation had changed, Lisa joined our Young Parents-to-be course. This enabled her to gain knowledge, understanding and an awareness that she had previously lacked. Having completed the Young Parents-to-be course, Lisa felt motivated to continue building her knowledge and understanding in parenting so she progressed on to our Parents with Prospects course.
The Parents with Prospects course that Lisa attended covered healthy lifestyles for parents as well as the study of parenting skills. Lisa thoroughly enjoyed the course, which not only continued to build on her knowledge but also improve her self-confidence and esteem. Lisa worked hard and, having achieved a Level 1 Certificate, asked to continue studying, wanting to soak up as much knowledge as she could, giving her every chance to be the best parent she possibly could.
Lisa has now given birth to a baby girl and although she arrived four weeks early, she is in good health. Lisa makes sure that she keeps appointments with her social worker and health visitor and she is thrilled to report that all is going very well. Based on the progress she has made, Lisa is hopeful that the care order on her baby will be removed in due course. Of course, all new parents feel nervous and need support at times but Lisa now feels confident in the knowledge and understanding she has gained about parenting. She is determined to be a good parent to her beautiful baby girl and says that the parenting courses she attended gave her the opportunity to make this dream a reality.
Karolina was already doing the Young Mums to Be course when I took over. She then enrolled on Parents with Prospects and has never looked back! She is highly intelligent – especially as she is native Polish and English is her second language. Karolina completed several units of work and never failed to surprise me. Her comprehension of the English language, coupled with her vast vocabulary, outshone everyone else in the group – in fact it made me slightly ashamed of the native English speakers that she put in the shade!
She had nearly finished her A-levels when she fell pregnant (planned with partner) and so never completed them. She is now 20 and her options are to go back to university as a mature student, complete an access to higher education course and begin studying Psychology at undergraduate degree level – in English, her second language!
She cannot start that until the next academic year so she is volunteering with the Children’s Centre where she was delivered the aforementioned courses. Her skills will be utilised two-fold, the first as an interpreter. As many Polish people are migrating here she will the Centre’s go-to person to help with translation, form filling and the like.
Her second responsibility will be as a learning mentor for the PWP course. The learners can only learn so much from me, a 40-year-old man who has little or no experience of babies! Karolina will be there to help them with the course, to offer practical solutions to situations that they are facing for the first time and to generally be a friendly face in the classroom.
I am very much looking forward to working with Karolina in this capacity and she will be an enormous success, I am convinced. However, she will be going to university in September. She will. Liam, Gardeners Lane Children’s Centre