Introducing You To Easy Peasy Pods
What does the service do and who does it help:
YMCA applied for funding for a project to be delivered to our parent and child provision in Ipswich. We were successful in the funding from Suffolk Community Foundation which funded us to provide one year of 6 weeks programmes called Easy Peasy Pods. This enabled us to set up a home learning environment through books and activities to support young and vulnerable mums and their babies.
The project started on the 2nd February 2017 and with the funding we were able to purchase resources to enable the programme to take place. These are in six week sessions and are themed, based on a story (for example we are going on a bear hunt). Staff focus activities on the book including outdoor play, messy play, singing, dancing, craft activities etc.
When the mums or pregnant young people come to live in accommodation at YMCA they are either referred by Social Services or direct homeless applications. A lot of the referrals we have for young mums or young pregnant people have either been a care leaver themselves or are under the local authority for Child in Need (CIN)/Looked after children (LAC) themselves.
The mums who live at the YMCA come to us for many different reasons with different complex needs some of which include; being asked to leave home due to being pregnant, leaving the care systems themselves, domestic violence, targets of traffickers, parents with drug and alcohol misuse and many more. As we are supported accommodation we are able to work closely with the outside agencies/Social workers to begin working towards positive outcomes for both mum and child. However we are limited to the levels of support we are able to provide, due to funding we are unable to provide more support to them than we would any other resident.
The programme supports parents to develop a positive home learning environment, understand how their child develops through play, develop their own skills in order to support their children, confidently take an active role in the process of learning – including with their child’s education. This also develops good relationships in a social environment with other parents.
We have had a very positive response from our parent and child provision attending the activities and learning social, early development skills for both parent and child. We have also been able to open a 24/7 parent and child room where parents and their children can socialise and use the resources in the room such as book corner, sensory corner and the children have access to toys and books.
Easy Peasy Pods won the first award for YMCA Suffolk (now Trinity) which was such an achievement. We were so excited to be in the running for the Award and on the night when we won it was amazing.
We have also had positive outcomes for our Parents and their children. One parent would never engage or come out of the flat and found socialising with other residents living here hard. When Easy Peasy Pods was set up and her child was born they both started attending our sessions and using our Parent and child room. This enabled the parent to start to also socialise with other mums and her child developed well with other children. The positive outcome was that mum then felt ready to move on and live independently. They still come in sometimes for the Easy Peasy Pods sessions which is great to see.
What are the challenges we face:
Some of the challenges we have had to face were not only to get the funding to set the project up initially but that it is a yearly application for further funding but we are very hopeful after the great outcomes we have had showing it is much needed service for parent and child living in hostel accommodation.
What do we most enjoy about being involved in the service:
Working here and managing the Parent and child provision, I knew there was a need to ensure children staying at the YMCA had activities and a safe environment to play and develop in. Easy Peasy Pods project made this possible. Seeing the difference this had made to parents and their children staying in a hostel environment, they now socialise and help each other with any problems they experience as a new mother. It really helps social skills and developmental skills through books for their children. We have had many positive outcomes through parents and their children also moving on into their own accommodation and they take with them the importance of early development through reading and socialising for their children.