Farhana

“I first heard about LEAP and Parent Champions at my son’s sports day in Myatt’s Field Park. I was interested in the Parent Champion volunteering service because I had nothing else to do at the time, my little one was in nursery, and I thought it would give me confidence again."

Parent Champions do a course which is only a few hours a week. It sounded interesting – it’s connected to people and I like doing stuff like that. Also, when I had my kids, I didn’t have that, those sorts of services weren’t available. So, I thought let’s give it a go.

 “The training was good – it was all straightforward and the information given was good. I clicked with the other parents who were there, we got on – it was fun, and we had a laugh! It wasn’t like classroom-based stuff, you could talk and give your opinions, so I enjoyed it."

Volunteering in the community

“After the training I volunteered at some LEAP family fun days. I helped out with the food – we made fruit smoothies, I talked to parents, I made a treasure hunt for children about finding pictures of fruit and I helped families do the treasure hunt.

Later on, I started volunteering in a baby clinic in Liz Atkinson Children’s Centre. After parents have seen the midwife, I provide them with information about what services Liz Atkinson offer, any other events or activities that are happening, any support groups they want to go to – I just provide them with the information. A lot of parents say; ‘I didn’t know they do this here’ and ‘I didn’t know that was available’ – I haven’t met one parent who didn’t want the information.

At first, I was a bit nervous, thinking: ‘How do I approach the other parents?’, but once I got into it, I was confident and just got on with it. I just start off and say hello and ‘how’s the baby’ and the more you do it the more confident you become.

I also volunteered on a Parent Champions information stall at Baytree’s Refugee Week celebration and that went really well. I think it’s because I like talking a lot! There were a lot of people who didn’t speak much English, so I just tried to make it as simple as I can because I knew most of them were learning English, so I tried to keep it simple and use basic words and I felt I got through to them. Also, I speak Bengali, so I used that language too with a few Bengali people there.

I also went as a Parent Champion to speak to a group of pregnant women in a Baby Steps group. I went there with the Parent Champions Coordinator, to talk to the group about what services are available, what they can expect and where they can go to get any support. We gave them booklets and information about the children’s centres and about LEAP. That was my first time talking to a group of 10 people – I was so nervous! The Parent Champions Coordinator started it off and explained what Parent Champions is about and then passed it to me and I just explained what I do and how I’ve been volunteering at the baby clinic, and my personal experience of how the information wasn’t available when I had my children, but now there’s a lot of information available for parents. Some of the parents there were first time mothers, so they don’t know, but now there’s so much, like breastfeeding groups, wellbeing groups and stuff."

Benefits of volunteering

“LEAP has helped me, it’s prepared me to go to work by getting confident again. I also gained some experience inputting information in the computer that I got from the baby clinic and volunteering helped me to get a reference as well, so now I’ve got a job!

I would definitely recommend other people to become a Parent Champion. I didn’t think volunteering would be like this – I have had fun volunteering, it’s helped me a lot and it’s built my confidence. At first, I was having second thoughts about doing the course, thinking; ‘shall I go, shall I go?’ Then I thought; ‘you know what, I’m just going to do it and see how it goes’. Once I put my foot in the door, in the course, it just went up and up and it got better and better.”

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