New funding, new home!
We are thrilled to be one of the organisations that received funding from the Mental Health Support Fund delivered by the Department of Health through Community Foundation NI.
Part of this funding will go towards our new Belfast-based wellbeing hub which is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift to get it ready for parents in early November. This wellbeing hub will be a place for parents to access counselling, peer support, wellbeing programs and more, as well as being a space that parents can use to just hang out and be somewhere where they feel safe.
This is a dream come true for our CEO Michelle Bradley who first envisioned this space back in 2012 when she was struggling with severe postnatal anxiety.
“I remember when my eldest was just a baby. I was walking around Belfast City Centre in the rain because I couldn’t bear to be alone, but I had nowhere to go. I just wanted somewhere that I could be with people who understood my distress and where I could let the mask of ‘I’m fine’ slip. We are now on the cusp of having that space available to all parents and I’m beyond thrilled. Finally, parents will have somewhere that belongs to them, where they can seek support, and feel less alone.”
We would like to say a HUGE thank you to the Department of Health and Community Foundation NI for making this dream a reality.
Keep an eye out for more details of our Wellbeing Hub coming soon!
New look website
Our website is often the first port of call for parents seeking support and we wanted to make sure it was as easy to use and navigate as possible.
This weekend, we completely revamped our website making it easier for parents to find out more about how we can support them, to register with us and keep up to date with all the latest news.
Check it out and let us know what you think!
What A Year!
2020 was a strange year for everyone and we were no exception. When news of COVID-19 first began to trickle through we began to plan for everything to change, unsure how we could support parents when we were all in isolation. We expected to reduce our services and for our growth to be hampered with all the new restrictions and uncertainty about how parents would be able to engage with us when we couldn't meet face-to-face.
Fast forward a year and things have gone in the exact opposite direction! As isolation and social distancing began to impact already struggling parents, we found demand for our services massively increased. For context, in July 2020 we were receiving around six requests for support per month. This month we have already received 36 referrals and we're only halfway through the month.
To deal with the growing demand, we expanded our services to deliver wellbeing programs in addition to the peer support we were already offering. This was to give parents tools and techniques they could use to take control over their wellbeing and help them to feel more in control.
When things began to open up again, we began offering early years programs to help parents bond more fully with their babies, and to provide skills they could use to soothe and stimulate their babies at home, as well as learning techniques they could use themselves to regulate their emotions.
We have supported nearly 500 parents in the last 14 months and demand continues to grow. We are now in the position where we need to hire new premises and additional staff to meet the rising demand - a long way from where we thought we would be at the beginning of 2020!
Funding, as always, remains an issue as we struggle to access funds that will cover our core costs and overheads. Without this funding, we will find it difficult to grow and expand.
The year ahead looks to be an exciting one for us as we continue to develop our organisation with parents at the very centre of everything we do.
We look forward to growing our circle of support for all parents in Northern Ireland.
If you would like to find out more about the year we've had, you can download our latest annual report from our website: www.theparentrooms.co.uk