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Newark mum praises early help initiatives for local families

Posted onPosted on 16th Aug

A Newark mum has hailed the support that families receive from Nottinghamshire County Council.

Peer-led parenting courses in Nottinghamshire are helping families tackle everyday issues with courses aimed at parenting 2- to 11-year olds and managing parental conflict. These courses, produced by Empowering Parents Empowering Communities (EPEC), form part of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Early Help offer.

Alice Lavender is one of the local parents playing a vital role in delivering the programme. A former professional nanny, in 2018 Alice attended a 10-week training course to become a volunteer parent group leader who would deliver the EPEC’s Being A Parent course to other local parents.

After delivering a few courses herself, Alice undertook a free qualification leading her to join the council as an EPEC hub coordinator in July 2020, supporting and empowering volunteers to use their own experiences to benefit other parents in need within their local communities.

Alice said: “Although nerve-wracking, once we began delivering to groups of parents, the value of the course began to shine through. Parents opened up to each other, offering support and friendship. Parents reported positive changes in their homes, not only with their children, but relationships with co-parents, other family members and colleagues. I was so pleased to be able to make a difference to people on a personal level.

“Starting a new role while in lockdown has been challenging, but I love being part of the team continuing to spread the EPEC ethos across Nottinghamshire. I wish I’d had the information we are sharing now when my children were younger. It is so fantastic to see the progression parents/carers make from the beginning to the end of the course and hearing about the positive changes they have made to their families lives. It is so rewarding on a personal level.”

Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership’s early help strategy was presented to the council’s Children and Young People’s committee to share how the partnership, formed of partners in health, the police and the local authority, ensure children, young people and families receive the right support at the right time.

As part of this strategy, the council’s EPEC programme engages parents and families in the early stages of difficulties. Support provided early in the life of the child, or soon after the emergence of a problem, prevents problems escalating and maximises opportunities for children to thrive.

In under three years, 30 EPEC parenting courses have been delivered by peer volunteers in total, over 150 parents have completed EPEC courses and 40 parents have been trained to become volunteer parent group leaders with the ability to facilitate future courses both online and in person.

Data gathered has shown a marked improvement in parenting skills and parental well-being following the experience.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to increased challenges for many families. Peer-led parenting courses provided a safe space for parents to share their struggles, such as difficulties brought on by self-isolation, balancing working from home with childcare and job losses related to the pandemic and national lockdowns. Recognising the huge impact on parents and families of the pandemic and the various struggles people were facing, the council, moved to an online delivery of the courses, giving continued access to support for those parents experiencing difficulties.

Coun Sinead Anderson, vice-chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s committee, said: “It is so important that these peer-led courses are available at a community level, working across children’s centre services, family service and schools. Upskilling communities and working across services having parents supporting parents in a structured and safe environment means that the parents and volunteers really work together.

“I’m proud of the excellent volunteer parent group leaders who deliver these sessions. Their diverse backgrounds range from former primary school teachers, to grandparents, to people who needed support themselves and ended up volunteering after completing their own course.

“Partnership working is vital to ensure that all our local communities are receiving the support they need to build resilience at every step. Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Partnership’s aim with early help is to provide a robust system of support for those who are beginning to struggle or experience difficulties.”

Parents interested in learning more about the EPEC programme and parenting courses can email