A blog by Julie Macleod, Systemic Practitioner.
As part of Home Link’s commitment to the Newbattle Community I offered my services to the Summer Programme at the Newbattle Learning Community’s Summer Programme 2019 working with children and families and I’m so glad I did.
It’s an ambitious programme bringing together the community to have fun in the summer. This includes families and workers from social services health, education, police, fire, third sector, private sector, and volunteers of all ages.
Some families make their own way and some are picked up in the community by our mini buses, making sure that everyone who wants to attend can. When the families come in they are greeted in a friendly manner with the choice of a fist bump, a hug, a high five or a handshake. Everyone seemed to enjoy this way of connecting and I overheard one parent say that it was the best hug they had had in a long time!
Once they are through the door they sign up for activities and both parents and children get the chance to have a break from one another as well as do activities together. There’s a variety of activities on offer for children of all ages, for example, Judo, Yoga, Outdoor games, Zumba, Swimming and Skating. Some of the children were trying out activities for the first time! There’s also a Bairnzone (crèche) where parents can play together with their younger children. This allows parents to take part in 1-1 sessions with health and wellbeing practitioners or attend group sessions. All activities are staffed so that children can be supported to get the most out of them.
The Parentzone provides a space for parents to sit down and have a cuppa and talk to each other, making connections with other parents in their community, sharing difficulties and their expertise with one another. There are also structured activities for parents to reflect on and learn about child development and different parenting approaches. I spoke with a group of parents about how they keep their ‘emotional cup’ full so that they can ‘fill up’ their children’s cups when they need it, we realised that there were many similarities in what both adults and children need to feel well, and the things that push our buttons and make us feel drained.
At the end of the day there are family activities where kids and their parents can have fun cooking, baking, crafting or swimming together! Bringing so many people together can be challenging and at times emotions run high but the programme provides an understanding, supportive environment where people are supported rather than judged. There is a belief that everyone is doing the best they can in their circumstances and this applies to the staff the children and the parents!
If funding allows I’ll be back next year with bells on! Having fun together as a family is vital when it comes to developing relationships and creating family stories and memories of the good times you have had together. I certainly feel that I’ve made stronger connections with everyone involved and I’ll remember the happiness and joy that I witnessed in staff, parents and children alike.