Here are some illustrative examples "straight from the horse's mouth".
Mother - Sue*, Daughter - Gemma *
Sue and Gemma started attending a part-time centre after being referred by their
Sue used to work full time before Gemma was born and had always worked since leaving
school. She found the transition from working full time to being at home all day
quite hard. She says "being a mother certainly opens your eyes, your life is completely
changed almost overnight".
Like most new Project Users Sue felt strange and awkward about meeting new people,
but both Sue and Gemma settled in quite quickly. As well as her own group the centre
offered courses such as Anger Management, First Aid for the under 5's, computer courses
etc which Sue has attended. Apart from learning new skills it gave her the opportunity
to meet other Project Users from other groups within the centre. She also uses the
food co-op and is a member of the Milk Token Initiative scheme, which comes to Greenhall
on a weekly basis
Sue likes being in the playroom with Gemma, the other children and the Play Workers.
Sue and other members of her group like the routine the children have. If the Centre
is closed for holidays, training, etc, the group will meet up elsewhere.
Apart from gaining from the service, Sue also gives a lot back in her commitment,
participation and appreciation of what is offered. Sue feels that both she and Gemma
have benefited from Midlothian Sure Start - the only downside is that there is not
enough of it.
The chance to become involved and be part of something, meeting new people and making
new friends with other people who have small children. She finds the time in her
group, relaxing and enjoys the time out. She feels that after she has been to her
group she is more relaxed at home. She likes the fact that when she talks to the
Play Workers about Gemma's progress they always have positive things to say.
Sue feels that Gemma has benefited the most from the service; she has come on leaps
and bounds in her speech, drawing and interaction with the other children. The quality
of care from the Play Workers allows Sue to feel totally relaxed and comfortable
leaving Gemma in their care. Gemma definitely has a "sure start" before she begins
My Time At A Part-Time Centre By A Project User
I am a mother of two boys and I also have a husband who suffers from manic depression.
I, myself, have been fighting depression since my first son was five months old.
I have been on various anti-depressants and I am still trying to find one that works.
Coming to the centre has been a godsend for me as there have been times when I have
not wanted to leave the house, but through support from staff and fellow members
there is always encouragement to come along. It has to be said that generally once
you get here you feel so much better. It does help to see friendly faces who give
you the support that you need and to have someone who is there to listen to you.
This can be something so simple as just letting out a wee cry now and then or, if
needed, counselling is available.
During my time at the centre the Co-ordinator informed us of a computer course that
was starting up. It was free and also provided childcare if we needed it - this was
a starting point for me. I gained a lot of confidence from doing the course; the
tutor was excellent and gave us a lot of praise and encouragement. I then went on
to do a Community Education course also introduced by my Co-ordinator, this too gave
me more confidence. My tutor on this course advised me that she was pleased with
my essays that I handed in, she said that there were very good organisational skills
showing and that it was very clear to follow.
At a public meeting all course work was on display and we, as students, presented
our results of surveys and mapping exercises and we also demonstrated some of our
communication skills. After the presentation I had a chat with the tutor who asked
if I had given thought to Mi-Tech in Dalkeith, a computer-training course where I
can learn word processing, spreadsheets and job interview skills. So I am delighted
to say I was successful in getting a place!
This was a big change in my life and for me a step forward towards better employment
and job opportunities. I could not have done all this without the staff and fellow
Project User members. The support has been fantastic and the centre has opened up
opportunities for me I would never have had. Words cannot say how grateful I am to
all the staff at the Centre.
I have to say that the pampering sessions at the centre have not only been fun but
educational and very relaxing. I've learned how to give hand massage, do edible facials
and tolerate toddler tantrums too! However it is sadly time for me to move on now
and I will miss everyone so much but will still be popping in when I can and will
help out with odd jobs.
Moving On From One Centre This Project User Wrote This Letter:
To all staff and members at Woodburn Family Learning Center
It has been so good sharing my time at the centre with you all, there is nothing
better than a problem shared. As the saying goes, it is a problem halved. Thank you
all for being there for me and supporting me through the good times and the bad.
Most importantly, please, please remember me for future nights out: you all know
I'm good for a laugh!
I am so glad to have made some new friends and I will pop in for a wee chat whenever
I can. I will miss you all and good luck to you all. Things can only get better if
you make them and please take advantage of the opportunities that coming to the centre
can give you!!
Love, hugs and kisses all round
Susan and Family
My Time At A Full Time Centre From A Dad's Perspective
I began coming to the centre when our daughter was around 18 months old. I had recently
changed jobs and I found I had more time at home during the day. As my partner and
I now have a job-share and work from home have found Stepping Forward very helpful
in being able to come and have some quality time with my daughter.
We particularly enjoy making things at the 'Lets Play Together' times which involve
getting stuck in and enjoying whatever activity is on offer. Sometimes we bake or
play with messy stuff like playdough or paint. We enjoyed making flags for the Hunter
& Lass Parade which we then took part in.
I also attend PEEP (Parenting Early Education Programme) sessions with our little
girl every fortnight and although I found this a bit daunting at first I soon discovered
it was enjoyable for me as well as the children.
Stepping Forward is a good source of information. Since attending I have joined a
computer course run by Newbattle Community Learning and I am now in the process of
enrolling for an Internet course as a follow on to this. This in turn will help me
with my new job as well as meeting new folk while my daughter is being cared for
in the playroom. I am usually the only dad who attends the groups but have not really
found it a problem. I enjoy the company and am sometimes able to help out with odd
jobs in the building.
The staff have made me welcome and I have enjoyed the variety of things to do within
My Time At A Part-time Centre
Sarah* is 21 years of age and a single parent.
Sarah* had her baby on Christmas Day after a traumatic labour, with very little support.
Whilst attending antenatal checks with her midwife at Bonnyrigg Health Centre she
saw a poster advertising Positive Steps. Sarah* asked her Health Visitor about us
whilst she was attending the baby clinic. From there her health visitor referred
her to us and she joined our Young People's Group. This group meets on a Monday afternoon
and it is a group of young parents and their children supporting each other. Sarah
has taken part in various other groups offered at Positive Steps including baby massage,
relaxation and support groups. She says:
"I really enjoy being able to talk about my baby and my concerns with people who
know how I feel, I like the fact that I feel safe in the Centre and that all that
I have to say is confidential"
Sarah continues to use the centre and her confidence and self-esteem increases as
she continues to attend.
From a Local Centre Client
I started at the local Surestart centre because I had just left my husband and felt
very low. I saw a poster for the cente at the doctors and gave the co-ordinator a
call. She came out to my house to visit me because I didn't feel ready to walk into
the centre and have everyone turn and look at me.
When I did go into the centre my fears were for nothing because everyone was lovely
and welcoming. I was offered a coffee before I even sat down and the women who go
there are lovely.
My daughter goes into the playroom where the play workers are lovely and always chat
away to my child. My daughter talks about when she is going to the play room even
on the days that we don't go. I feel confident in leaving her to play.
In the centre I also got to meet other people in the same situation as me.
With help and support, I no longer feel like "JUST A MUM."
"I FEEL LIKE ME."
From a Local Centre Client
"I was feeling depressed and isolated and had no pals."
My health visitor mentioned Sure Start at one of my appointments. She also introduced
me to a client who goes there.
I went along to one of the local centres the next day with the other client. I felt
scared and anxious.
Everyone spoke to me immediately and made me feel really welcome.
I join in with all the courses that were running and have say at what courses we
would like during our User Group Meetings.
When my Son goes into the playroom I feel confident that he is cared for and it also
gives me a break.
I feel supported when I come to the local centre and it also gives me something to
do rather than sit in my house wondering what to do with myself. I feel that no one
in the centre judges me and have had supportive one to ones with my co-ordinator.
After attending at the Surestart local centre I feel that "I have pals and people
that I can turn too".
* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the Project User.