Scott Fowell is a 34 year-old from Shoeburyness with three sons, 3 year-old James, 5 year-old Zak and 7 year-old Damien.

He first came to Southend about seven years ago and was living on the streets. Scott explains his situation: “I became homeless in 2007, and was living a very unsettled life on the streets in London and moving around the country too. I came to Southend in 2011 and I decided enough was enough. I wanted to turn my life around, to better myself and improve my situation. And over the last seven years my life has turned around.”

He has had previous involvement in parent-led initiatives and was involved in Sure Start, when in a previous relationship and was also the Vice Chair of the Sure Start Parent Forum in the Gascoigne ward in Barking & Dagenham.

He explains why he wanted to get involved with the Co-production project at A Better Start Southend: “I have strived to give back and do something for the community. I had used different services which helped me turn things around and I wanted to give back and improve others’ lives and their wellbeing.”

He first found out about A Better Start though children’s services, such as the weigh-in clinic. However, it was when he attended the Let’s Talk World Book Week event last year in Shoebury that he really started to get involved with the programme: “The Bookmobile event was great. I read my kid’s favourite The Dinosaur That Pooped, which is one of a series of books by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter to all the children, not just my two kids who were with me on the day. Lynsey [Weston] from Let’s Talk explained more about A Better Start and the Let’s Talk project to me and I wanted to get more involved.”

“Soon after I got involved with the Dad Lab event that Lynsey told me about which was held last October in the SAVS building. I enjoyed all the Dad Lab training. I was definitely looking forward to it, and wanted to show my enthusiasm, to do my bit for the community. I was really happy to be a part of it. Without parents getting involved in all the projects and activities it wouldn’t be the same at all.”

Getting more dads involved in A Better Start Southend is something close to Scott’s heart: “I always want to get involved in the activities and I want to get other dads involved too. It’s important to get dads involved and having fun with their kids as well as having support. I feel that Dads are just as important as mums in bringing up children and they can make as much as a difference as mums can.”

Scott soon got involved in his local A Better Start Parent Forum in Shoebury, to help raise and develop parents’ ideas put these forward to professionals. The Parent Forums are run by SAVS who work to involve parents in the co-production of services for A Better Start. “At the Parent Forums it is all very professional. There’s a laid back atmosphere, which I like, but it works as you are there because you want to be and we get things done.”

Scott has recently successfully completed his Parent Champion training, to help promote A Better Start to fellow parents, which was a very positive experience for him: “It has been fun but constructive, with a relaxed atmosphere. It has given me the confidence to go and do more and I can now say that I am a Parent Champion and I can strive to help other parents. It will give me a bigger input and impact on children’s activities and services in the community and help me be a voice for parents that are less able. Being able to use the crèche has been very helpful and gives me peace of mind.”

As part of this desire to get more parents involved, and especially more dads, he has been involved in arranging a Dad’s Day in Shoebury. “The idea went through the Parent Forum and the Ward Panel [which brings together public service providers with community stakeholders at a ward level], and is now in the process of getting final approval (hopefully!) and then it will be going ahead! It is though the Engagement Fund to get more parents involved. A Better Start Southend is helping me achieve this activity day for fathers and children to be together and bond. The event will also be for single parents and those who are doing the ‘dad’ role too.

Scott has also taken on the role helping produce a monthly Shoebury parent newsletter; “The role was offered to all of the Shoebury Parent Forum members, and I decided to go forward and help do it. It is going to have information about activities from A Better Start and relevant activities from partner organisations and should go out shortly after the forums, to make sure it has that parent input too.”

“The staff involved with the A Better Start programme have been absolutely blinding. They have been absolutely professional and great the way they have put themselves out there and been always ready to help. James is always happy when he comes to A Better Start Southend activities, he’s always well-behaved and always wants more.”

“To anyone thinking about getting involved with A Better Start I would say ‘Come and join us and get involved!’”


Article published April 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *