Creating a Community of Parents

25 July 2023

Peasedown St John Methodist Church started its first Ready, Set, Parent! session just after Easter.  The six-session course helps young parents hone their skills and create a supportive parents’ community.

Peasedown St John is a large village of 7,000 inhabitants close to Bath and, while the one main road makes it easy to reach, it is isolated from the nearby villages. Peasedown St John is a place of its own with a strong sense of community.

The course Ready, Set, Parent! is a new initiative with its roots in the church’s Seeds, Baby and Toddler group. “After lockdown, we realised that parents were quite isolated, particularly new parents who did not have connections with others, so we decided to look at offering a parenting group,” explains Julie Winstanley, Children and Family Worker at Peasedown St John Methodist Church.

They did their research and applied for a Methodist Insurance grant to help them establish the course. Julie signed up to do a Facilitators course run by the charity Care for the Family in December. It gave her the tools and resources to begin to help new parents.

Julie talked with the parents attending the Seeds, Baby and Toddler group. to understand what the course should include and when was the most convenient time to run it. This first series of six sessions happened during the day each fortnight, which means that the attendees are normally only the mothers. “I think if the next series was in the evening that could make a difference. But even then, there would probably be one parent staying at home and one coming here,” adds Julie.

Six mums are attending the Ready, Set, Parent! course. The first part of the session is informative, then there is a break with something to drink and homemade cakes before the second part with more practical information. When this is done, the attendees often stay on and talk, creating friendships and personal bonds.

Most of the people coming to Ready, Set, Parent! are as interested in making connections as improving their parenting skills. “Many of them haven't got extended families living nearby and they are looking for a support network and creating friendships locally,” adds Julie. And it is working, those also attending the toddler group find each other there too, reinforcing the relationships created at Ready, Set, Parent!

The first series of classes is now complete, and the parents were very pleased with what they learnt. They now feel they have a greater understanding of parenting and how and why parenting strategies work. The parents all mentioned feeling more positive and having greater confidence in themselves as a parent, appreciating the non-judgemental, safe, relaxed space to talk.

The next series of sessions will start after Christmas 2023.