Our Breaking Barriers for Families in Leith is an Aspiring Communities funded project which ran from January 2018 to July 2019. Breaking Barriers complemented our existing work by bringing a wider range of groups, events and partners services under one roof with a childcare service supporting these activities. This project specifically aimed to support families who are most in need of support services and therapeutic groups and faced issues related to poverty and inequality.
We ran 51 groups and drop-in services with 362 parents and carers attending. The final report on the projects impact will be published in the new year however, we can share that the majority of those who came along to activities and groups reported:
- Improved parenting skills. By providing parents with opportunities to learn about the developmental needs of their children we help raise confidence and self-efficacy. Parents reported a reduction in feelings of isolation as a result of their new social networks as well as their relationships with centre staff and volunteers. Group sessions aided in closer bonding between parents and children which carries over into the home.
- Increased awareness of health and wellbeing through nutrition and healthy eating for families. Achieved through cooking programmes for parents only, and group sessions for the whole family. Families cooked and ate together and benefitted from advice and support from a variety of professionals. Community lunches also took place regularly bringing people together to cook, eat, and socialise.
- Improved mental health for parents and their children. This is achieved through services for parents and carers experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or post-natal issues and for those who have experienced trauma. Services included trauma counselling; person-centred counselling; therapeutic groups; mindfulness training; art therapy; female-only activity sessions; and referral-based baby massage classes.
- Improved mental health for BME parents and children. This is achieved through culturally-sensitive therapeutic services for parents of young children who have been referred due to their potential vulnerability to mental health issues resulting from stress, adversity and/or disadvantage.
- Improved confidence and resilience of parents and carers and in turn their children. Achieved through providing: a range of family learning programmes and ongoing support to embed this in the home; volunteering and peer mentoring roles and employability skills groups and workshops and help to get into work, training or education; signposting and referral to partners and other services.
The learning from this project has been invaluable and has helped us shape our current offer to the community of Leith parents and carers and informed the design and subsequent funding applications for our new project Healthier Futures for Families in Leith.