Farewell to the Best Start Peer Support Course

It’s certainly a time of huge change here at Women’s Health Matters as well as in the world. One of the projects coming to an end is the Best Start Peer Support project we have been running in partnership with Touchstone for the past three years.

Leeanne who delivered the programme had this to say –

Whilst I am really sad that the work isn’t continuing, and to not be working with my wonderful team at Touchstone, it has been good to look back at what we have achieved together over that time.

We’ve delivered 17 courses in South and East Leeds and two volunteer training courses in the city centre.  When we first met to discuss what we wanted this project to be, Touchstone and Women’s Health Matters felt that, whilst there are many great parenting courses in Leeds, the thing missing was something that was just for the parents and carers themselves.  Who was asking them how they were doing and how they were feeling?  Since then we’ve been working through South and East Leeds creating safe and welcoming spaces to have those conversations.  We reminded people that although they spend all their time looking after little people, it’s really important not to neglect themselves and their own wellbeing.

This started many interested conversations about whether it’s selfish to meet your own needs (it’s not) how we can do that (it’s not always easy) and how scary it can be to ask for help (it can be, but it’s worth it).  It’s safe to say that we learnt so much from all the parents and carers who came through the project and that many deep and lasting friendships were made.

So this is a thank you to all those who came through the project, who opened up to what we were asking them to do, who took part in conversations that were sometimes funny, sometimes sad and sometimes difficult – but were never boring!  We laughed, we cried, we drank cups of tea and ate biscuits.  We shared our common experiences of being a parent, how hard that can be, how rewarding (it’s a good job!) and what a difference it makes to have someone alongside you who understands all of that.  In my last course, one of the women said that the thing she got out of the course was realising that she can do things that she didn’t think she could, that she was more capable than she thought.  If we could bottle one thing from Best Start and continue to share that through the city, I think that would be it.  Thank you Best Start Peer Support Project, and the wonderful team at Touchstone Support, its been a pleasure!