This month, we acknowledge Sharon Blyth for her perseverance, enthusiasm and unwavering dedication to the parents and families in her community. Read her story below…
Hi, my name is Sharon and I am part of the Kids Matter Team here at Holy Trinity, Barnstaple in North Devon. Living in the South West may conjure up images of fields, beaches and idyllic rural life but it is a place of contrasts and great inequality. We have several locations where free school meals are very highly subscribed to; prompted by this awareness of social need, I was very excited to find out about Kids Matter two years ago. I trained as a facilitator and passion for the programme has been contagious, as we now have three trained facilitators in our church.
We’ve run six groups to date, with parents often repeating the programme; I often feel like I’m repeating myself! We have tried to maintain contact with all the families we have worked with, and we let them know that we are always here for them – no matter how long it has been since we actually talked to them. We do this by sending cards, dropping off small gifts for occasions (like Easter and Mother’s Day) or simply to cheer them up. There is a keen baker in our team who makes birthday cakes for our Kids Matter families and we also enjoy putting together ‘family packages’ as a way of loving parents, carers and children in our community. Other opportunities to love our families present themselves when the church congregation donates things – like a TV or slow cooker (both of these have happened!) – and we offer them to families, and we also facilitate them accessing the Food Bank if they so need.
It is not easy being a facilitator. My heart has been broken by some of the stuff I have heard and sometimes I wake up worrying about the mums and the difficult lives they have had. But it is also so rewarding and so real. Walking alongside a family with a poorly child, a relationship breakup, mental health difficulties and problems with school – and much more – is such a privilege. We may not be able to break the poverty trap and unfairness of life but we can be people who shine a light of hope to families in our work. And above all, we can enable them to believe that they are good parents and their children are amazing.