Dear Kids Matter supporters,
One of our most favourite gifts of the season has been the celebrations at St Stephen’s Church Southmead (pictured below) as Kids Matter parents joined together (in person!) to finish off their interrupted programme from March. There were party poppers and applause to commemorate the occasion, not to mention the usual cake and a hot drink or three. We know that young lives have changed because of the commitment of this team of facilitators. And this is but one example of the fortitude and determination of all those who have supported us (as partners, volunteers and donors) in what has been an extraordinary and challenging year.
As a team and an organisation, we’ve adapted in ways that have enabled us to remain steadfast in pursuit of our vision to see every child in need raised in a strong family. We most certainly will not forget 2020, for all the challenges and opportunities, (and change) it has thrust upon us, and as we wave it goodbye (with some undeniable relief) we look ahead with great anticipation and expectation, as a cohort of new partners, facilitators and generous monthly givers, plus a host of planned events and training, propel us forward into a new year – ready to meet the need of parents and families in communities around our country.
This month, we acknowledge Carole Baker and Lynn Hayward for their unwavering dedication to seeing the lives of children and families transformed in their community. Not even a pandemic deterred their commitment. Read their story below, which is nothing short of inspiring…
Hello from Felixstowe in Suffolk, a coastal town with the biggest and busiest port in Britain and one of the largest in Europe, where we run Kids Matter out of Christchurch for the local community. Christchurch is located between the local Morrison store and the skatepark.
Many years ago, I had one of those God-made moments and a chance meeting with someone in London, who shared her vision to roll out parenting programmes through a local church in the community. That contact led, several years later, to an introduction to Kids Matter and I just knew that this was the right organisation to partner with. I was head over heels with excitement! Last year, Lynn was looking to be involved in something similar and on hearing during a Sunday service that I was looking for someone to launch the programme with, was keen to find out more. When Lynn emerged and spoke to me, the bond was sealed for Kids Matter to start.
As a result, we trained as facilitators last Autumn. After connecting with our local school and other community contacts, we ran our first programme earlier this year with a great support network in church including; prayer, pastoral care, admin, refreshments and creche. We felt really blessed with such wonderful support.
It was such a privilege to welcome our group, made up of mums, a dad, a grandparent and a foster carer. The parents came from within the church and from the wider community to explore together the joys and the difficulties of parenting. Some of the parents joined our messy church group and had great fun mixing in a new environment and meeting new people. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic! We had to skill up, stay at home – protect the NHS – save lives and do the booster session online! This worked surprisingly well. We have been able to keep in contact with the group through socially distanced catch-ups at the beach, a WhatsApp group, and through the delivery of activity packs which they have all been surprised and delighted to receive. It has been such a joy to witness the parents growing in their confidence and parenting skills and the way in which they are ready to support each other. What’s been really touching is the way that parents continue to keep in contact and some have been courageous enough to ask for help when needed during the pandemic.
We are currently partway through our second Kids Matter programme (this time fully online – on Zoom) and, once again, have been so touched by the willingness of the mums and dads taking part to share their sometimes very challenging parenting stories and to support each other, especially now as we go through the potential isolation that comes from being in a second national lockdown. It’s been challenging technology wise to manage a new programme and run it on Zoom but it seems to work and parents still connect together, contact one another and share openly in the group. Another wonderful benefit of running online is that parents who would never have attended a face-to-face group have been willing to connect from their homes on Zoom which means that the programme has a broader reach and parents don’t need childcare to attend, which also means more parents can attend together.
We are looking forward to our Kids Matter journey developing next year. We are both training to be Babies Matter facilitators and are so excited to see how we, as a church, will reach out into our community with both programmes.
- We are pleased to share that we have reached 1,942 children in 2020 (over 400 since lockdown!) and are heading into 2021 with 10 new church partners and 19 new facilitators!
- Our organisation has grown in the last year, with the appointment of: Yinka Oduwole to the Kids Matter board, Sophie Jackson and Yewande Ajeyi to the Support Team, and Victoria Lawrence, Carol Richardson and Tom Elliott have joined our Partnership Engagement Team.
- The last couple of months have been busy with events, including a Partnership Lead Gathering, a Taster, a Kids Matter Fundraising Event, the launch of Babies Matter training and online training for new facilitators. All have been hugely successful, with great turnouts and positive engagement and feedback.
- In largely uncertain times when many are under financial stress, we are grateful for a fantastic grant from the Founder’s Pledge that will enable us to continue to support children and families into the new year.
1) Voting for us! Every day, for 12 days, Ecclesiastical Insurance will be giving away £10k to ten different charities – we just need to get as many nominations as possible to win.
2) Signing up to Amazon Smile. If you’re bagging some bargains on Amazon this Christmas, would you consider making your purchases through Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.co.uk)? Simply select Kids Matter and Amazon will donate a percent of all purchases to our charity.
3) Signing up as a Family Champion (a monthly giver), which would ensure our support for children and families in 2021.
Check out one of our FAVOURITE blogs of the year, written by Fuzz Dix (Kids Matter Facilitator, mum of four and foster mum) who shares how parents in her community are finding creative ways to celebrate their children in spite of ongoing pandemic challenges
As I headed out of church across the estate last week, a loud voice hailed me, “Hey, Fuzz, come and see this!”. It was Shahara, one of the mums who did Kids Matter in my first group over five years ago. She was having a tough time back then (with a newborn) and her relationship was very rocky. Now, Shahara has had a second baby, her kids have been at our toddler group and holiday clubs, and her partner helps out with our foodbank. Life’s far from easy but she and her family are hanging in there.
.…read more at kidsmatter.org.uk.