Family Groups is a registered charity established in 1982 based in the Cauldwell ward of Bedford. Parts of Cauldwell are among the 10% most deprived wards in England. Family Groups aims to reduce isolation and increase the confidence and skills of families in the local community. In March 2015, the Harpur Trust awarded Family Groups a grant of £38,657 over three years to continue their work with disadvantaged families in the area.
Parents and children experience disadvantage such as unemployment, language barriers, poverty and isolation. Participation in the group’s activities can be the first contact some women have outside the home since having their children. Some people may be newly arrived in the area and feel isolated.
Adults can attend two workshops a week with a free crèche for pre-school children. Whilst the adults are learning, fully qualified staff in the crèche help the children to improve their literacy, language and social skills. The regular workshops for adults offer sessions on various life skills such as basic cookery skills, healthy eating and budgeting for healthy meals as well as arts and craft activities.
In addition, there are many other training courses to help people to access vocational training or gain employment or life skills. This could be an introduction to a career in childcare or Future Aspirations, a course which helps with job related skills (communication and interview skills, help with CVs and application forms).
Feedback provided by participants explains how the group makes a difference
“They provide me with a place I can come to with my children, to give me a break. They have provided me with support and advice and lots of tips and activities I’ve carried on in our home life”.
“The workshops allow me time to socialise and interact with similar like-minded people whilst knowing your child is well taken care of. I enjoy learning new skills”
Some of the current crèche staff started as mums in the group and have progressed to employment through childcare training.
E is in her late 20’s. She joined in September 2012 and at this time she had 2 pre-school age children and a partner. She came to Family Groups with a friend who was in similar circumstances, to take part in the weekly groups. Her son had some difficulties and has since been diagnosed with global delays and behaviour problems. She had previously worked with young children.
E engaged in groups with her children and started to attend adult learning courses delivered by Family Groups. She started to make new friends and became a regular attender. She says “my daughter enjoyed coming to Family Groups.She made new friends and built her confidence to talk to people. It helped her to settle at nursery.”
When her daughter started at nursery,E engaged in more training courses to prepare her for work. She attended Maths and English and the Safer Communities course and began to volunteer in the crèche to gain work experience. She also completed an Emergency First Aid at Work course with Family Groups.
She says “I’ve made new friends coming to group and my self-esteem has grown”
In October 2014 E applied for a job as a crèche worker with Family Groups and was successful. She is now working approximately 10 hours a week whilst her children are at school.