Jemma first became involved with A Better Start Southend through an engagement event; a Christmas celebration activity held at the Kursaal Suites 2017. Jemma said “the event was so busy and had a real buzz with families enjoying the day, so I signed up and asked about other activities I could get involved in”.
The Engagement Team contacted her after the Christmas break and invited her to attend a Parent Forum at Centre Place. Jemma went along to the Forum to see if she would like that sort of thing. Having attended the Parent Forum Jemma realised there was so much more going on than she had imagined and was keen for her children to get involved as well. Previously Jemma had enrolled at college and was doing well, until she met someone and soon fallen pregnant. At this point her life was turned upside down and she found herself pregnant and homeless before luckily being housed in time for the birth of her child. Jemma had lost all confidence and was struggling; she was put into temporary council housing and has been there ever since. She now had two little ones and is supported by the DOVE project.
Jemma’s main aim and purpose for choosing to get involved was to help her little girl socialise, as due to circumstances out of Jemma’s control her daughter had been isolated from children her age and was behind on her predicted milestones.
During her third trimester Jemma took at step forward and signed up for the Parent Champion course she had heard so much of at the forums and activities. Jemma successfully completed the course weeks before giving birth to a healthy son.
Jemma stated. “Being part of the course group, I soon realised it was giving me confidence within myself and I wanted to now help the community where I could as well as people that are in a similar situation to me”.
The difference the involvement with A Better Start Southend has made to Jemma and her children is the family are more sociable than ever. “I actually have a life outside of this flat now.” says Jemma.
Jemma would like to get back into work at some point, so will continue in her volunteer role and possibly go back to college as well.
Jemma hopes that A Better Start Southend gets more recognition in the community, whether that is through increased social media or coverage in the newspaper. Jemma will be doing her bit in her volunteering role. Jemma finished by saying “ABSS is great and more parents need to know about it.”
Our ‘Parent Champion Stories’ series aims to share the experiences and stories of the wonderful Parent Champions who volunteer for the A Better Start Southend project. Without these creative, forward thinking and inspiring parents, the project would simply not exist. Turning Tides would like to thank Jemma and all of the Parent Champions who we get to work with, for helping to improve the future for the children of Southend.
If you’d like to learn more about the project, how you can get involved or becoming a Parent Champion you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01702 356069.