The HENRY programme can make a real difference for families, with diet and nutrition and beyond. This is the experience of a young family, which had recently moved to Southend from the South West of the country…

Kira*, who had contact with their Health Visitor, was a single mother who was a very isolated, trying to cope with two very young children, Molly* aged 2 ½ and Freddy* aged 7 months, in an area that she didn’t know. Kira informed her Health Visitor that she was having difficulty in managing her daughter’s behaviour alongside her own mental health issues. Kira suffers with anxiety and depression. Molly had recently been diagnosed with a milk protein allergy and Kira was finding it difficult to manage her new diet and what foods to give her. Kira also informed the Health Visitor that she wasn’t sure not only of what foods to give the children, as they were very fussy, but also how much food to offer as she felt that she struggled with portion sizes not only for the children but also herself.

Having just moved into a new area she was finding it difficult to get out and meet new people. The Health Visitor referred the family to the HENRY Programme in the hope it would help Kira to overcome some of her issues.

Kira was offered a place on the Cambridge Road Children Centre Group. Kira stated: “The idea of going to a group with a bunch of strangers was daunting at first, but I needn’t have worried. I was made to feel really welcome by everyone.”

The first session looked at how healthy the families thought their current lifestyle was and where they would like to be by the end of the Programme. Kira realised that there was a big difference between her diet and that of her children. She was better at trying to offer them healthier options than herself. So she decided that would be one of the changes that she would try and make. Kira also realised that if she planned her days by writing lists, it really helped relieve some of the stress she put on herself and that enabled her to make time to play with her children more and she also began to make a conscious effort to make time for herself.

Whilst attending the sessions Kira met up with another lady who was also feeling very isolated, and struck up a friendship. They began to meet up on other days to take the children to the park. By the end of the Programme, Kira had also became friendly with other members of the group and now meets them regularly for play dates with the children, but also odd nights out with the other mothers. Kira said: “It is so nice to have some friends now to spend time with and that have given me to confidence to go out and about.”

During the HENRY Programme, Kira found some of the sessions particularly helpful: “The session around Needs and Demands has really helped me to understand my daughter’s behaviour and how I react and deal with it, I also really enjoyed the session regarding portion sizes and label reading.  Since those sessions, I have reduced the portion sizes for us all and I am now using a much smaller plate for myself.  By making this small change I have managed to lose over 2 stone myself and I now also buy different fruits and vegetables for us all to try. Both the children are now using cutlery and feeding themselves. I am so pleased.”

Kira has benefited in many ways by attending the HENRY Programme and stated: “The HENRY Programme has given me so much confidence in myself as a parent but also has enabled me to get out and meet new people. I don’t feel isolated anymore. I have now re-registered to go to college and I am looking to join a local Volunteering Group so that I can help other parents. Attending the HENRY Programme has changed my life.”

Kira’s details have been passed onto local organisations, with her permission, so that she can engage with other local groups and start her journey as a volunteer.


* All names have been changed

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