“Our Bettws”: Highlights from the Bettws Early Learning Community 2022/23
Bettws Early Learning Community (ELC) places children and families at its centre; surrounded and supported by early years practitioners and professionals from health, education, housing and third sector organisations who are united in wanting to see children thrive in their early years.
Reflecting on this past year, it has been an exciting time of growth and empowerment in the ELC. We have been listening to the voices of the community to build on our understanding of lived experiences, views and ideas for change. We have heard that many families are proud of the strength of community and connection in Bettws and we have seen progress in how families are raising their voices to advocate for change and influence the services and support available.
What have we learnt over the past year?
Coffee Mornings are highly valued by families.
Our ELC peer-support coffee mornings for families, running four mornings a week, have gone from strength to strength. These groups have been regularly attended by families and provide a relaxed, safe environment for them to come together to talk, play with their children and join in fun activities such as arts and crafts, games and nature walks. Parents have shared how much they value and enjoy coming to these groups – some have said their confidence has increased since joining, including their social confidence and their parenting.
“I feel more confident in general within myself…Knowing other people have the same or similar issues makes me feel more at ease.”
The ‘Stay and Play’ Pilot project was a great success!
We have been delighted to see children and families engaging with our weekly ‘Stay and Play’ sessions, in partnership with Monnow Primary School throughout the Autumn term in 2022. Parents valued the opportunity to connect with other families and have access for their children to play in the safety of the school grounds. As the project was such a success, we are continuing with ‘Stay and Play’ sessions on a weekly basis during term time.
“The play project after school was amazing – it not only gave my kids a change to run around and play with things they might not have at home, it was also a safe environment, so parents weren’t worried.”
The ‘Embrace Pilot’ has enhanced parents understanding of their mental health, given them space and support to process trauma, and techniques for managing their emotions in their daily lives.
In partnership with Platfform, the mental health and social change charity, we have delivered the Embrace Pilot project, a-year long project with 18 parents from Bettws which aimed to enhance community mental health understanding, develop collective action skills and create space for reflection and learning to make sustainable changes. Parents have shared with us their experiences of taking part in Embrace, for example:
“Embrace for me helps me see things in a different way. It allows me to open up and share my trauma in a safe and completely understanding environment. It shows me how mental health works and how I can then use it to accommodate to my life.”
“I feel calmer…it’s change how interact with other people and I’m more patient with my kids.”
Other highlights from this year include making progress in empowering families to have a voice and taken an active role in their community. The Voices for Bettws (V4B) parent group are a great example of this – they have been meeting regularly to discuss important issues and have taken opportunities to influence change. We were also delighted to see parents engaging with Welsh Government Ministers when they visited in January 2023.
In the Bettws ELC, we place great emphasis on our approach to learning and value the voices of everyone we hear from. We want to thank all the families and professionals who have taken part in our research activities this year – we have learnt so much from you and we are looking forward to building on this learning over the next year. With this ongoing approach to learning, we will look to identify opportunities for make changes that will address systemic issues and have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of children and families in Bettws.
To read more about the strengths and challenges of the Bettws ELC over the past year, including a range of data and insights from families, professionals and external sources please see Our Bettws Annual Report 2023.
Bettws ELC is part of Save the Children’s UK-wide Early Learning Communities programme.