My first year as a parent support worker has been eventful to say the least. Who would have known the drastic changes we would all be adjusting to. Thankfully, the resilience and strength the parents continue to share with myself and each other remains strong.
We have had some emotional times, but parents that have found the confidence to reach out for support have felt valued, and continue to find support with us.
Many professionals at The Bridge have been liaising to help contribute to the positive outcomes for our parents and their families.
At the beginning of the lockdown I was based in school and started a display in the staffroom. There were photographs and messages from the parents showing their children engaging with activities sent home by school teams.
Sharing information by using different means of communication by text message, Zoom, email, WhatsApp and recently an app called Seesaw, has all been very successful.
Well being calls made by myself or by a parent requesting some time to talk have been a great way to connect. Although I was able to do this while the school was open, it highlighted how isolated some of our parents can feel. Often parents stay in the background and never push themselves forward, but through communication we believe they are coping and strong. They are the parents who have gained so much confidence and have reached out.
Free School Meal Vouchers, Magic Breakfast, Short Breaks, Blue Badges, Crisis Team, Personal Budgets, Sleep Support, Sensory Issues, Medication advice are an assortment of services and challenges I have been working on with the support of the therapy team, outside agencies and some very patient members of The Bridge staff.
I have supported parents by attending meetings with various Islington agencies via Zoom which I found very strange at first, but I soon learned this was the next best thing to actually interacting with a parent face to face. This is the part of my role I have missed the most during this time, and I hope we are able to meet even at a distance on a Wednesday morning at a Parent Support session.
Parents have shared some sad, challenging moments and some very funny stories with me, and I have gained an even greater insight and understanding of the role of the parents and their families during this time and I know they have grown in so many positive ways.
I hope we are able to share our experiences at a parents support group when we can look back at what the parents have achieved.
Looking forward we can learn from this experience and think about future support for our parents!