"Being a voice for parents"

Shanel Maxwell has been volunteering for LEAP since January 2020. She has now taken on more responsibility and become a Parent Rep.

"I started off as a Parent Champion, talking to parents about LEAP’s free early years services.

“I really enjoyed it and decided to be a Parent Rep. Being a Rep means telling them a bit more. Being a voice for parents and making sure they’re heard.”

Shanel has two little ones of her own, ages 4 and 5. She chose to help early years children (age 0-3) because of the impact that period has on a child’s outcomes in life.

“I didn't know if I'd have the time”

Shanel discovered LEAP, like many parents do, at her local children’s centre in Loughborough Park. It was around the time that she had given birth to a baby boy.

She met Catherine and Kira there, members of LEAP’s Community Engagement team. It was obvious that Shanel had a natural propensity for connecting with other parents and so they asked her if she’d like to get more involved. 

“I had my son with me who wasn't old enough to go to nursery so I didn't know if I'd have the time, but Catherine told me about the creche and that they would support me looking after my child. So I thought, ok let's give it a go.”

“They will never force you to stay at sessions”

Babies and little children can play havoc with your daily calendar. Shanel praises the flexibility of LEAP services. She’s been able to manage her time effectively, to support her children and develop her own skills. 

 “LEAP were very supportive. They will give you a creche. They will never force you to stay at sessions. They're very understanding, and they helped me to multitask and get things done.”

“It can be difficult finding enough activities to keep children engaged”

One of the biggest challenges for families with early years children is finding enough things to keep them occupied so that they can develop in all kinds of ways. From nurturing their communication skills to bonding with them emotionally and looking after their physical health needs.

“That's why LEAP is so good. LEAP has a lot of activities for early years children,” explains Shanel.

Her favourite activity is Friday Family Fun. This event is now run at Liz Atkinson Children's Centre, which includes our brand new outdoor play area. 

“It's a nice big space with a lot of freedom for children to play. My kids love the story time, cooking and singing. When we get home, they're tired out from hours of fun and learning.”

“Sleeping is when I relax”

Shanel likes to keep herself busy, even when her children are at school and nursery.

When they are all together, they have favourite activities such as playing football and learning nursery rhymes, depending on the mood. 

She confesses to not having time for TV, but she does enjoy mealtime with her little ones – curry chicken and rice is a current family favourite.

Shanel’s message to families

“Don't be scared. LEAP has a very friendly team, and they'll support you in every area you'll need.”

Shanel is supporting and representing families living in Vassall postcodes. We also have Parent Reps in Stockwell, Coldharbour and Tulse Hill.

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