Walking alongside people

Hub staff member Jennie Tweedy shares her reflections on supporting parents in Feltham.

Having lived in Feltham for 15 years and worked in the community for 11 years, I know that every person has a story, a past, and that has an impact on who they are and how they behave today.

Over the past few months, I have attended three events that have opened my eyes fully to the long-term consequences of trauma on people - especially early childhood trauma. During the Love vs Trauma conference, we learnt from Peter Lovatt how he uses dance therapy to help those who have experienced trauma and the positive outcomes he achieves, which really made me think about the benefits of dance. The effects of trauma are different for everyone and those of us who are lucky enough to grow up in a nurturing family, with a strong support network around us, can overcome the trauma or at least start the journey of repair and recovery. I was most inspired by Jaz Ampaw-Farr who spoke at the Festival of Education about the importance of significant adults within institutions and how they play such an important role within children’s lives. She herself had suffered abuse and neglect as a child and spoke so passionately about her work and how we as professionals can make a massive difference to the lives of the young people we work with. She made me realise that we need to walk alongside people as opposed to standing over or in front of them.

Those that are lacking sufficient nurture and support are highly likely to have low self-esteem and low self-worth, and may struggle to get by every day. As part of my work, I run a Family Links nurturing programme and I see the positive difference that caring and supporting someone can make. The ten week course helps parents to nurture, support and have boundaries whilst emphasising the importance of the parent nurturing themselves too, which is so vital. Being able to listen, being a shoulder to cry on and offering advice to the parent can have a massive impact, which cannot be captured on any evaluation form!

Throughout this academic year, I hope that I can be that nurturing “mother figure” to those that have suffered trauma and show them how to break the cycle, ensuring that their children grow up feeling loved, supported and equipped to deal with life‘s challenges. I am facilitating the Family Links Parenting Puzzle programme for parents with children in nursery and reception; we have recently started a Stay and Play session with elements of PEEP; and we are continuing our Coffee and Crafts group, which is targeted at those parents who don’t have a support network locally or just want to get to know other parents (whilst making some great craft projects!) Through all of these projects, I know that the most important thing is to continually communicate care and respect for every parent I work with, and to support them as individuals in whatever ways I can – whatever their story, and whatever their past.