It’s not everyday you get to meet one of the most photographed women in the world, yet this is three-year-old Theo Hayward. He presented flowers to the Duchess of Cambridge on a recent visit to ‘Rhieni Ifanc Ni/Our Young Parents’ project in Caernafon, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
Although countless cameras clustered the Royal couple, the real stars of the day were the young parents who’ve been supported through the ‘Rhieni Ifanc Ni/Our Young Parents’ project run by GISDA. The project was awarded a Bright New Futures grant of £857, 730 in November 2013 to provide a holistic, bilingual service for Gwynedd’s young parents to help improve their lives. One of parents supported through the project shares her experiences with us. Referred to as ‘A’ to protect her identity.
As a single parent, ‘A’ found it difficult to find childcare for her 3 year old son due to the hours as well as not knowing her working hours week by week. “At the beginning (when we first met) I felt so low and alone. I was so anxious about everything”. She felt the chaotic work pattern was affecting her mental health as well which resulted in her not being able to deal with practical day to day tasks. As well as this, ‘A’ suffered from anxiety and low confidence which created barriers in getting on with daily tasks. Initially, ‘A’ was in a great deal of debt which was progressively getting worse, she refused to take part in social activities and only wanted to meet at her home or in familiar cafes where she had an idea of who would be there.
With support, from ‘Rhieni Ifanc Ni/Our Young Parents’ she started a 6 w
eek course, called STEPS, aimed at developing her confidence and self-worth. This gave her the opportunity to challenge her self-beliefs in a safe environment as well as developing her confidence by learning a new instrument and learning to drive. As a result of the intense support of the project and the STEPS course, she was able to seek relevant support from other services such as De Gwynedd Domestic Abuse and Social Services.
“I definitely see a difference in myself. I can talk about my problems. I’m not scared to ask for help. I’m also out of the house more.”
Since completing the course there has been a noticeable difference in A as she has taken part in group activities which has given her the opportunity to meet new parents as well as giving her confidence in going to new places.
“I’m a lot more confident and I’m able to socialise more. I see things differently now, it’s as though I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I’ve definitely spent more time with my child doing different things because of the project”.
When asked what has been the best thing about receiving support from ‘Rhieni Ifanc Ni/Our Young Parents’ ’A’ says, “The STEPS course and the ongoing support I’ve received at a time when I really needed help.”
GISDA, currently employs over 25 members of staff, each one in some way or another contributing to the support offered to young people between the ages of 16 and 25
Other initiatives run by GISDA that have been supported by the National Lottery Community Fund include ‘Cafi Ni/Our Café’ which was awarded a National Lottery grant of £50,000 under the People’s Millions initiative through a public vote. ‘Mentro Malen’ which has established three Youth Centres located in Caernarfon, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Pwllheli through a 3 year People & Places award of £491,277.
Sian Tomos of GISDA Chief Executive stated “There isn’t a better feeling in the world than to see a young person flourish especially after overcoming some pretty difficult barriers. “Earlier this year members of the National Lottery Community Fund Wales Committee visited ‘Te a Coffi’ to meet the young people receiving work experience and training opportunities in catering. Committee members also observed sessions run for young parents and their children.