“It’s a place to go to get support when it’s really needed.”
“It’s given me more confidence than I have had in recent years and by building friendships and getting myself out of the house, my mental health has improved massively.”
“For my little girl, it’s her chance to play with her friends in a safe environment and knowing she is happy brings me joy and peace of mind.”
These are just some of the comments from parents who are taking part in coffee mornings run by Bettws Early Learning Community (ELC) in partnership with primary schools and community groups in the area.
The coffee mornings, known as the Biscuit Club, were set up a year ago as an informal weekly group where parents can meet, socialise and discuss any issues that they may need help with. It also provides a safe space for people to build relationships and connections in the community, which in turn is helping to improve mental health and wellbeing.
It is a key part of the work being carried out by Bettws ELC, supported by Save the Children Cymru, which is aiming to bring families and local organisations together to make sure children in Bettws are getting the support they need to thrive, learn and have the best possible start in life.
Kerstin Nott, Bettws ELC Project Officer, who runs the Biscuit Club, said, “The Biscuit Club is an opportunity for parents -with or without their children – to come together to chat, support each other and ask for help if they need it.”
“During the sessions we share fun tips on how they can play with their children, as well as signposting them to support from other community-led projects such as local food banks and family information services about childcare and benefits.”
“Listening to some of the stories they are willing to share about their lives such as how they are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis or worrying about accessing support to help their children can be hard to hear but by sharing these concerns it means we can do our best to provide the help they need and the group provides understanding and emotional support too.”
The Biscuit Club provides an opportunity for local services such as housing associations, health visitors and family information officers to attend and offer advice and help to parents and their children.
It also offers a range of practical courses to help families such as how to write CVs, learn digital skills or make healthy food go further on a budget.
There are four clubs available each week;
- Bettws in Bloom, Lambourne Way, Monday 9.30am – 11.30am
- Millbrook Primary School, Parret Road, Tuesday 9.25am – 10.15am
- Monnow Primary School, Darent Close, Wednesday 9.15am – 10.15am
- Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael, Clos Meon Thursday 9.15am – 10.15am
Families who attend the clubs often suggest activities and information they would find useful.
For many, such as Emma who attends the group regularly, it offers support and a place to make friends for her and her daughter.
She said, “Biscuit Club means a lot to me, because it is a place to go to chat with and relate to other parents. I’m not from Bettws, so before Biscuit Club, I didn’t know anyone and felt really isolated. Now Biscuit Club is in my life, I’ve made new friends and don’t feel as isolated as I was.”
Kerstin added; “We know the Biscuit Club is making a difference. Communities are resilient, especially when people come together and with the support of our partners and local services, we can make sure their voices bring about change.”
“To quote one of the parents after a session with our team: “Now we feel heard.”
For further information please contact Alison Watkins – Save the Children Cymru on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07854 386054.
Early Learning Community Programme in Bettws
- Bettws housing estate and ward in Newport is one of the most deprived areas in Wales where the child poverty rate is 42%. This means that many children living in Bettws face disadvantages compared to their peers across Wales impacting negatively for children across a range of areas such as health, wellbeing, education and future life prospects.
- Save the Children Early Learning Communities programme in Bettws aims to improve early learning outcomes for children in the area and has engaged over 80 stakeholders including three local primary schools, Monnow Primary School, Millbrook Primary School and Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael; parents and children, Newport City Council, Welsh Government, health visitors, police, young offenders team and housing associations.
Save the Children in Wales
Save the Children works in Wales and around the world to give children a healthy start in life, and the chance to learn and be safe.
For further information about our work in Wales visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk/wales