Our first Parent Champions were officially welcomed on board at the end of March, as the Deputy Mayor of Southend, Cllr Fay Evans, handed out certificates to mark their formal completion of the Parent Champion training.

The ceremony at Balmoral Community Centre was the culmination of four weeks’ hard work for the new Parent Champions and the start of an exciting time for them as they lead the voice of the parents in explaining the needs of the local people in the Better Start Southend wards.

The parents will be a crucial link between their fellow parents and the professional bodies involved in A Better Start Southend, helping to set up Parent Forums and attending Board and Panel meetings. The Parent Champions attended their first Partnership Board meeting on April 24th.

The Parent Champion training, which consisted of one weekly session for four weeks, covered topics such as confidence, communication, safeguarding, meetings, mapping and data protection. The parents then were able to display their increased confidence and knowledge with a five minute presentation at the end of their training on a topic of their choice, with subjects as varied as customs in Cambodia, raising twins and hairstyles.

The course has proved popular with those parents who have completed it so far. Parent Champion Ileana Tait commented:

“The training course was amazing, definitely way beyond my highest expectations. It was very well organised, with plenty of interesting course content and delivered by outstanding staff. I feel privileged to be part of such a unique, exciting project. I look forward to the next steps and have no doubt that it will be a great success.”

Another parent champion Melanie Harris said: “I can’t wait to get involved in the community and start helping those around us. It’s really great to have more of an insight in to what I can do personally and how I can get involved, it’s really nice to know my opinion counts!”

Her partner Jack Styles added: “I look forward to getting more dads involved and inspiring more dads to fight for what they believe in (like the toddler groups!). But my main objective is for families to be more involved. I’m feeling more confident after this course with the communication side of things, in helping to support the community and everyone else!”

Anthony Quinn, Deputy Chief Officer at SAVS, who are delivering the programme, said: “The group have really bonded over past few weeks and are so enthusiastic. All have been an inspiration and are now ready to take the next step full of confidence and motivation. They will play an important part in the shaping of future services.”

The next round of training is running in the Kursaal ward, before it is the turn of Shoebury and their prospective Parent Champions in July. Our first Champions were from Victoria, Milton and Westborough wards.

If you are a parent or expectant parent of a child aged 0-4 and would like to find out more about how to become a Parent Champion, get in touch with the SAVS Better Start Team on abss@savs-southend.co.uk or 01702 356069.

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