What we do
Parents 1st promotes sustainable, effective and nationally acclaimed peer support programmes that enable the 'Community Parent' concept to flourish. By 'Community Parents' we mean mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers. Our passion is building on the strengths and skills of parents living in less advantaged communities. Relationships are at the heart of support. Informal early prevention in the heart of local communities empowers parents to cope well from the beginning.
Community Parents are important intermediaries who carry out a role midway between that of a professional and a friend. They also assist parents to ‘take the first step’ into accessing local services before problems become entrenched and difficult to resolve. A Community Parent has particular personal qualities. By offering advocacy, informal support, useful information and encouragement to other local parents they can reach those who are wary of professionals, building bridges to help all parents to feel valued and supported.
Organisations we work with typically deliver children’s centre, extended schools or Healthy Child services. Community Parent roles span the 0-19 pathway including Pregnancy Pals, Birth Buddies (doulas), Breastfeeding Supporters, Community Mothers and Community Fathers.
The Parents 1st ‘Community Parent’ model is based on extensive practice experience and research evidence [see Best practice]. There are a number of unique features:
- Community development model with an emphasis on trusting peer relationships
- Two sets of beneficiaries: Community Parent volunteers and the parents they support benefit
- Primary focus on early intervention (health, wellbeing and parenting skills)
- Recognising key transitions as motivators for change - particularly pregnancy, the birth of a first baby, or a child starting school
- Semi-structured approaches that support achievement of personal goals
- Use of picture based resources to assist ‘conversations with a purpose’
- Skilled coordinating, supervision and high quality accredited training
- Volunteer to employment progression pathways
- Participatory evaluation.