Brompton Westbrook Primary School

 

Parents' Voice

From a business perspective:  Nadine Monks - Financial Planner (non investment) & Director, Military Specialist

As a military wife and mother of 3 young children, I am no stranger to moving and resettling myself and the family. One of the hardest things about this is integrating yourself into a new community and finding new friends. From a career point of view these constant upheavals are disastrous.

Sure Start at Brompton, gave me a much needed lifeline for all of the above, and even went so far as to support me when I took the big step to become self employed last year, by allowing me to host a workshop on my services. I soon realised that I couldn't be the only one feeling this way, so embarked upon setting up a military spouse business networking group to offer both emotional and practical support to others like myself. We started off with 8 members and even with postings out of the area have managed to grow to 25 within 12 months. We do all kinds of things together including collaborative marketing and events, there has even been a bit of a babysitting circle formed.

As the popularity of the group continued, it was soon identified that we needed some child free time to help us focus on our personal development. It was here that Sure Start stepped in again and agreed to provide us with a creche, which has been invaluable. The productivity has more than doubled for all involved and after getting feedback, 50% of attendees said this was a major factor in them attending. Every month the group brings new faces and we are now looking to duplicate this model elsewhere. I can honestly say that without the help of the Centre we would not achieved as much as we have so far, and look forward to continue working with you in the future. Thankyou.

 

A current Volunteer and Advisory Board parent representative:  Ange Kirby

I began volunteering at the Children’s Centre about four years ago, when I was asked to take over the running of a Sew and Stitch group.  Since then the Centre has provided me with training on subjects such as health and safety, inclusion and child protection.  I have also attended several courses as a parent, including Toddler Tantrums (extremely useful when I was at the end of my tether!), Baby Yoga and Mend; a course on healthy living.  I have had support during breastfeeding and the first weeks with a new-born.  I have had the chance to attend sessions on creative-writing, learning through play, cookery, healthy lunchboxes, baby massage and baby-weaning, as well as various stay and play, active tots and singing sessions.  I currently help to run the weekly Art, Craft and Messy play group.  

I am on the Brompton Children’s Centre Advisory Board as a parent representative, so I get an insight into the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.

Over the years I have found my confidence increasing massively due to the faith shown in me by the Centre staff, and through interacting with so many other parents and Centre users.  I feel I am a better and more secure parent as a result of being involved with the Centre.

 

The difference Brompton  Sure Start Centre made to me:  Hazel Burrowes

My Health Visitor introduced me to the Sure Start Centre at Brompton, I had never heard of them before and didn't know that Children’s Centres even existed.  I started going to sessions with my one year old son while I was pregnant with my second child.  I found the support from the team, and the friends I made in those early years whilst on my own with my two children, invaluable.

After going to the Centre for a while I was made redundant, and I decided to make a career change.  I wanted to work in an environment like the Centre, and to be able to do for other families what the Centre had done for me. I decided to start my Degree in Childhood and Youth Studies part time. The studying was great but I wasn't gaining any real life experience.

I spoke to the team at Brompton to see if they had any ideas of what else I could do.  They put me on a course called ‘Making Choices’ which helped people interested in working with families and children decide which routes to follow.  The tutor on the course gave me the information to enrol at the Adult Education Centre to gain the qualification I would need in maths. I did this straight away, and while I was there, enrolled on a British Sign Language course as well.  The Sure Start team then put me on their own training course to become a Sure Start volunteer, and I started attending regular sessions as a volunteer instead of a parent, when my children began nursery.

Four years on I am still doing my Degree with only two years left to go. I completed my maths qualification, my British Sign Language Level 1 and then started the Children and Young People’s Workforce NVQ with my placement at Brompton which finishes in a few months.  The confidence I gained from volunteering at Brompton prompted me to volunteer with other agencies in the area helping boost my CV and work experience.  This means that I will now be able to find a job working with families before my Degree even finishes.  The Sure Start Centre have supported me throughout all of this every step of the way, and I can’t imagine that I would be prepared to go back to work without the help I have had from them all. 

 

My Story:  Sarah Sinclair - Associated Registered Childminder

My name is Sarah Sinclair.  I am married and have 2 daughters, 4 and 13 years old.  I have been a registered childminder for the last 7 years now and can't think of any job that would bring me more pleasure and fulfilment. I chose to do childminding because I had another baby when I was 34 years old.  Prior to this I worked in Primary Schools in London working in nursery, reception and Year 5/6 classes. I love studying and taking courses I am offered - I have achieved a Level 3 in Childminding Learning and Development. I was extremely busy in London and had a triple buggy! I also collected children after school and they would all do arts and crafts, ball games and have a home cooked hot meal and pudding before being collected by their parents.

I moved to Gillingham from London a year ago.  I received a leaflet through the post from Brompton Westbrook Sure Start Children's Centre, inviting me to meet staff and be part of daily activities like Arts and Crafts sessions and Toddler Time-Exercises. 

When I first arrived at Brompton Primary School I parked my car easily, I was greeted by kind, welcoming staff.  Nickki was so friendly and so easy to talk to. The environment is delightful, stimulating and safe. The children were happy making arts and crafts.  The Sure Start workers were approachable and helped with the activities. The centre has a relaxing feel to it and I got on well with everyone there.  This was great for me as my own two children could come along together with the baby and toddlers that I child mind.

I have since become an Associated Childminder to Brompton and Burnt Oak Children's Centre.

Associated Childminders work together with Children’s Centres to promote registered childminding and to support the delivery of good quality home based childcare service to parents. I am proud to care for other peoples little ones and aim to help them develop into happy, confident children.  In my last Ofsted inspection (January 2010) I received an overall Good with 4 areas of Outstanding.  My Early Years Foundation Stage folder for my practice was praised.  There were plenty of photos and information on how well the children were doing.  I have fantastic references and get on really well with parents.

I was once a single mum on benefits, doing a part-time college course and volunteering in a primary school.  Because of the help I had been given, my wanting to better myself has made me what I am today.  People just need a bit of confidence and praise to make the first step, which Sure Start can help with and also because of my knowledge and understanding of babies and children I can share experiences and help parents to become more confident. 

 

A Dad's Experience Of Sure Start

“ I hadn't heard of Sure Start until Austin arrived.  I'd been along to a couple of sessions with Charlie & Oz when I'd finished work early but initially I didn't want to intrude upon Charlotte’s support group.  I was so proud of her commitment in getting our son out and meeting new people, come rain or shine.  It was a silly point of view to take really as Pauline and Jane made me feel very welcome.  When Pauline let me know that they were running a Dad’s group on  Saturday’s I jumped at the chance to come along.  Now I was accessing the services and telling other Dads about it!  I started to come along on a Thursday and a Friday.  Austin and I liked Active Tots.  Nicki let me know that they were running volunteer training and asked if it would be something that I would like to do.  Nicki explained her vision of the role.  Again I jumped at the chance and undertook the four day training programme. 

I remember how nervous I was when I ran my first session! My Mum came along with Austin so that I could concentrate on what I needed to do.  Now my Mum was accessing Sure Start.  Austin and I decided we'd try cooking, man! Cooking with Oz was so much fun and the food was always yum.  There's a lovely photo on the wall at Brompton of Oz with flour dripping off  his hair.  We still cook together at home now. You may have noticed that I seem to be talking in the past tense; this is because Nicki knew I wasn't happy in my previous job and suggested I look for vacancies within Sure Start centres.

I started my search  and am pleased to say I  now work at Riverside Sure Start Children's Centre full time, and am very happy.  Both my parents now access Sure Start with Austin.  Charlotte and I come back to Brompton as often as we can.   

Sure Start has had a major impact on our lives (Thank you)." 

 

It's Not Just About The Children

I was introduced to Pauline Bovis and the Sure Start Children's Centre at Brompton Westbrook School during the summer activities of 2008, when my daughter and I attended the face painting afternoon. Myself and many of the other parents ended up with more face paint on us than the children and it was great fun for all, though I was slightly embarrassed walking home with a green glittery face!! We have attended many of the weekly and holiday activities held at the Centre and have found them all to be fun, enjoyable and a great way to meet other children and their families. The Centre always has an open and friendly welcoming for all and my husband thoroughly enjoyed the 'Dad's day' he attended with our daughter; they were very proud of the selection of cakes they made together!

The Sure Start Centre is not just about our children, it is also a wealth of information for parents who are looking to return to work or further education. Pauline, Jane and Nicki provided great support to me during my recent venture of returning to college. After many years of working within the Financial Sector, I decided it was time for a change and I am studying an Access to Healthcare course at Mid Kent College to enable me to pursue my dream of becoming a Midwife. This will provide me with the qualifications needed to enter a degree course to study Midwifery. As part of the application process it is important to show a good understanding of the role of a Midwife and it is difficult to gain 'work experience' in this area. I approached the Sure Start Team to ask for their help as I was not sure where I could gain this type of experience from and they very kindly arranged for me to spend a morning with the Midwife who is based at the Centre. This was the most fantastic insight into Community Midwifery, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning and I am very grateful for the experience.

I am currently in the process of preparing for interviews at the universities I have applied to, after which I will discover if a place can be offered to me. Competition for a place on this type of course is tough and without relevant experience of Midwifery, an interview is unheard of. Without the help and support of the Sure Start team at Brompton Westbrook I am pretty sure I would not be in the position I am in now. Thank you so much!!

Jenny Baker - Mum to Faye (4) and Archie (1)

 

That's the Ladies at Brompton

My Name is Errol and I am a single father of ethnic heritage.  I became aware of the Brompton Children's Centre through investigation of local children's activities in the area as it was time to get my son into activities you know what it's like, it's hard to keep them entertained all the time and plus it's easy to forget social interaction with adults as all your time is spent with your child.

The first day I attending a group was abit daunting, a man entering a woman's world (mostly mothers attending) it wasn't for me it was for my son. The staff put any apprehensions aside and made us feels very welcome and I met a very nice group of people. Pauline Jane & Nicki were very helpful and knowledgeable with advice on the centre, groups, nursery's and courses available to myself. The tea and the magazines aint bad either!

We all need a little help sometimes and that's what Brompton Children's Centre and the staff provided, a good outlet for me and my son.

Being a single father is still quite rare, even though they have a father's group, which I have attended , but it's about your child's development that is the most important factor, and knowing that I am taking him to a clean safe environment. That's the ladies at Brompton!