Circle’s Haven Project runs a variety of support groups for parents, families and children.
Baby Massage Group
This is a five week programme of teaching Baby Massage to parents so that they can use it at home and also teach their partners. Baby Massage has excellent health benefits for babies and improves communication and bonding with parents. Two groups ran recently with 11 parents and 11 babies with parents commenting that “it’s nice to feel more confident in what’s the best way to touch your baby”, “it has helped with my baby’s stomach issues”, “our bond is stronger” and “my baby is happier and content with massage”. After the groups finished all the parents fed back that they have continued practicing massage and that their babies have benefited from it.
This group supports parents with newborns up to six months old and is run weekly on a Friday morning. We provide healthy snacks for the parents each week and opportunities to do arts and crafts activities such as baby foot canvases, making treasure boxes and filling them with sensory materials to take home. We also take family photos in particular with mum’s and babies in a sensitive way, as parents face confidence and self-esteem issues after giving birth. We provide photos and frames and celebrate parenthood.
We also discuss child development as well as encourage much needed peer support and invited a Yoga Instructor to introduce gentle parent and baby yoga exercises. This was well received by parents who have just recently given birth as they commented that “I found the yoga really useful for fixing aches and pains in my back and spending quality time with my baby” and “would recommend it for other parents; especially helpful with posture when feeding babies”. All the parents commented that this group helped them feel less isolated as they were able to socialise and meet new people and also feel more confident in their parenting.
This group runs weekly on a Tuesday and supports parents and babies (six months +) in the weaning process. We have been able to provide homemade healthy lunches for both parents and babies ranging from homemade soups such as lentil, minestrone, leek & potato and sweet potato & parsnip to pasta dishes, fish pie, baked potatoes and quiches. We also had the opportunity to invite in an Indian cook who made homemade lentil dahl, pakoras and chapatis for everyone. We provide sharing plates with a variety of fruits each week and also invite in the local Infant Feeding Advisor to answer any individual questions. Parents commented that “this group has made me feel less isolated as I don’t have any family here, and I now have so many friends” and “the group helps mum’s feel confident, including strong mental health and well developed babies”.
The Haven Tots group was initiated in response to parents requests for a group session that focused on providing activities for children between the ages of one and three years. The group has been attended by 12 parents and 12 children, with parents helping to lead singing and suggest activities. Haven Tots runs on Wednesday mornings and the sessions include a variety of songs, nursery rhymes and stories. We have offered some arts and crafts activities such as play dough, musical instruments and drawing. At the end of each session, parents and children are able to chat and play while enjoying a range of healthy snacks including fruits, vegetables, cheese and crackers.
This group provides a social hub and activities at the Pilton Youth & Children’s Project for dads, male carers and their children. The group enables dads and male carers to develop their parenting capacity and build relationships with their children in a fun environment. Activities this term included trips to Circus Starr, Kings Theatre for ‘Cat in the Hat’, attending the Community Shed, Ghost Tours, opportunities to attend professional football matches as well as weekly fun activities at our normal DADtastic Club every Thursday morning.
The weekly DADtastic session regularly involves up to five dads and six children with the external activities varying in numbers though our ‘Cat in the Hat’ trip had an incredible 21 dads & 31 children attend!
The school holidays can be a particularly hard time for families as their routine is disrupted and more time, effort and money is required whilst schools are closed.
Our groups therefore offer these families vital support by organising activities and providing healthy food. Some examples of the sessions we ran include:
- Oliver from Happy Ears who provided two live music sessions, one for babies and another for under five’s. Oliver played the guitar and ukulele and provided interactive songs and dance to the families.
- Paula from Tiny Talk delivered two singing and signing sessions one for babies and one for under five’s. Paula uses British Sign Language in nursery rhymes and teaches parents basic signs to help with additional communication to their children.
We also finished our 14 week Incredible Years parenting programme in March with nine accredited parents. This was a fantastic, hard working group and the parents certainly felt the benefits of the group stating that they were able to play with their children more and feel confident to put in more structured routines and boundaries, which has helped reduce some challenging behaviours.
This has led some of the parents involved to start our Raising Children with Confidence Group initiated as a response to the parents from the Incredible Years Group telling us they wanted to continue their journey of learning.
Making This Work Possible
Circle’s Haven Project is primarily funded by The City of Edinburgh Council and their support is vital for ensuring these vulnerable families get the support they need.
Our work is also supported by Muirhouse Housing Association who contribute to the group work programme and Easter activities by providing funding for materials, equipment and activity costs. The Haven project does, however, regularly run out of perishables like books, sensory materials for the babies such as soft toys or arts and crafts and of course ingredients for the parents and babies to eat healthily.
If you would like to support Circle’s Haven Project to continue to support parents and children then you can do so through our online giving page.