‘We provide wraparound services to teen and young mums who otherwise might fall through the cracks,’ explains Tash Keepa, Centre Director.
The Young Mums programme develops participants' parenting skills. The young women learn about feeding and settling babies or dealing with sleeping issues. Child safety is also covered, including first aid and what to do if your baby is sick.
However, the programme goes beyond parenting to cover the mother's health and wellbeing. According to Tash, everything from mental health and exercise to budgeting, nutrition and post-natal depression is included.
Furthermore, the highly trained coordinators have access to an extensive network of professional and community-based support. Young mums can be referred to social services, housing providers or local mother and baby playgroups.
The free programme runs for five months, and 10-12 young mums aged between 16-28 participate at any time. ‘We offer a safe and supportive space. Many mums develop strong friendships that continue long after the programme has finished,’ says Tash.
Participants can also take advantage of free childcare in the on-site facility while attending the programme. For some new mums, this is their only opportunity to enjoy some essential me-time away from their babies.
One young mum who has been through the programme makes clear the impact. She says, ‘I used to just be at home all day, but we have good friendships now because we can support each other.’
Henderson’s Living and Learning Family Centre received $5,000 from the latest round of the Your West Support Fund. The funding has gone towards salary and operating costs for the Young Mum’s coordinator.
‘We are very grateful to the Your West Support Fund. The help has ensured we can reach even more local young mums,’ says Tash.
Self-referrals on to the programme are accepted. And some participants are referred by agencies such as social services, Plunket, The Fono, and Oranga Tamariki.
If you are interested in finding out more, go to the Living and Learning Family Centre’s website.