The wonderful vision of a Big Society where people help each other, not for reward but just because they can.
In some places where this is happening through volunteering and support groups you can see that confidence is built and self esteem is lifted. People reluctant to step forward for fear of being unable to join in can find they step out on a ladder which gives them a feeling of self worth, helps them to have fun with their families and can even lead to a start of something new in their lives.
A great example of how a school ‘Home to School’ support really helps directly with people is shown in Children and Young People Now, wk 22 – 28 June 2010.
At the Marion Richardson School in Whitechapel, 30% of parents are now involved in some form of volunteering. Previously they were reluctant to leave their homes.
There is a credit union, after school clubs, maths and reading clubs. A group has started for teaching Arabic to Bengali and Somali parents, which is led by a Moroccan parent .
Alison Jones, who is employed by the charity School Home Support, is often found in The Parents’ Hut – the mobile in the playground. She supports parents as a listening ear on family sickness, bereavement, unemployment and housing and domestic violence.
The Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programmes and courses are also a way in and Alison says,‘It helps them to get to know other parents, but also learn about violence in our community, how to stop kids getting into gangs, what is domestic violence and child abuse.’
At SmithMartin Partnership we are involved in many schools around the extended day and activities that are happening in after school clubs and holiday schemes
We like this approach, being there in a place where parents are comfortable, even if nothing else the time to listen can be a real life line.
And as Alison says, ‘For most parents its about having the confidence to move out of depression and into the community.’ What a difference that must make.