Dundee Mum Credits Young Parents Group With ‘Turning Her Life Around’

A Dundee Mum is crediting a young parents’ group with ‘turning her life around’ and urging local communities to back its campaign for National Lottery funding.

Zoe Smith (20), Mum to one year old Tilly is one of a growing number of young parents attending the ‘Bringing Up Baby’ ‘Kindred Clothing’ project, based at Front Lounge in the city’s Hilltown.

Zoe and Tilly at a Halloween event last year

Zoe and Tilly at a Halloween event last year

 

The project, created by and for young parents, has been shortlisted for National Lottery grant of up to £50,000 which could transform the lives and skillset of 30 teenage parent families throughout the city. The project aims to build the skills, confidence and networks of vulnerable, young families by supporting parents under the age of 20 to design and make clothes, learn new skills and make friends while their children play. Ultimately, it is hoped that those attending will leave with an official accreditation.

The project has now reached the final regional stages of The People’s Projects, a National Lottery competition, allowing members of the public to vote for worthy projects within their local communities. The three finalists receiving the highest number of votes will go on to secure up to £50,000 funding.

Zoe started attending the weekly drop-in sessions after being encouraged along by her friend Hannah Watson, 18 year old Mum to Grace.

Zoe, who has a history of depression and anxiety said, “I live alone with Tilly and the only family I have around me is my Mum so it’s really important that I get out there and mix with others. It would be very easy to become isolated but this group has truly turned my life around. I’m getting a different perspective on life and am not the person I was before. There really is nowhere else like it – we are learning a skill, it’s free and we can take our babies with us. We all benefit – I’ve made lots of friends and Tilly is getting used to being around other children. Best of all, there’s an option to take this forwards. I used to work in a clothing shop in town and my long term goal is to design my own clothing line and open my own shop. With this project and the experience I am gaining, I see no reason why that can’t happen!”

And for anyone who would love to take part but hasn’t got the confidence to..?

Zoe added, “The biggest hurdle to joining a new group is often walking in the door but everyone at Kindred Clothing makes you feel so welcome. We’re all here to help and support each other and we all have the same thing in common – that we’re young parents. I had no idea how to sew but have since made pyjama bottoms for myself and Tilly, tutus, Halloween costumes and a pom pom blanket. We’re hoping to eventually get some sort of accreditation so that we, as parent volunteers, can pass our skills onto others. Chika, who set the group up, sees the potential in us that we don’t see and he wants to see us succeed, and to empower us. Any young mums and dads who need some company and want to learn some skills for life should definitely come along.”

Mums Hannah and Zoe with their daughters Grace and Tilly

Mums Hannah and Zoe with their daughters Grace and Tilly

 

Kindred Clothing features weekly drop-in sessions at Front Lounge’s Hilltown premises, as well as showcase events and visits to creative venues including Dundee Contemporary Arts’ print studio. The weekly sessions are led by young parent volunteers, supported by a Community Learning and Development (CLD) Worker, with a Making Practitioner facilitating the creative sessions. If funded, the programme will include tailoring, knitting and quilting, with the added opportunity for parents to design their own fabric through screen-printing. The grant would help pay for materials and machinery, toys and a Play Worker, allowing parents to concentrate on their crafting knowing that their children are being looked after just a few feet away.

Longer term, it is hoped that the skills gained will ultimately lead to external accreditation, a significant factor given that some participants may have left school early, with few qualifications. At the end of the funding period, the participating parents will also have gained skills which could lead to new employment opportunities.

You can vote from Monday 16 until Monday 30 April 2018, with the winners announced on Thursday 3 May, during the 6pm STV News programme.

You can vote at www.frontlounge.org/kindredclothing

Founded in 2012, BUBS, Front Lounge’s young parents group, was started by a young mother who was tired of feeling isolated, lonely and judged. The group is currently funded by National Lottery Funding ‘Awards for All’ funding and Women’s Fund for Scotland and supported by NHS Tayside.

Alice Stuart, 28 year old mother of Lily (aged two) and the brainchild behind Kindred Clothing, will be helping the young parents with the making side of the project. She said, “I first became involved with BUBS when Lily was a few months old. To me, it was all about meeting other mums in a similar position and doing something productive. When you’re a young mum, it’s easy to stay in and hide away but that can do more harm than good.”

Meanwhile, Chika Inatimi, Project Leader believes the project will have far-reaching rewards, not just for parents but the wider community – “Kindred Clothing has the potential to be huge and is such an amazing project. Helping parents who feel isolated due to financial challenges, restricted access to transport and a chronic lack of confidence, the project is free and entirely peer-led – it’s already helping overcome the barriers that reinforce the sense of isolation. In addition, meeting others in similar circumstances who share similar interests can be very encouraging, especially when mums, dads and children can all learn and play alongside each other. Some of the most profound outcomes BUBS has witnessed over the years is the strong friendships that have formed.”

ENDS

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