Evaluating Mums Plus +
Guest blog from Apinder Sidhu
Mums Plus in Kingston was set up in September 2018 following a conversation between Louise Pendry, Director of Bounce Theatre and a young single mum who was an ex-student of Anstee Bridge and a current volunteer.
The premise of the Mums + programme is to support young mums living across The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The key idea of the programme is to support those young mums that feel isolated, withdrawn from their community and society and those that are battling with mental health challenges.
Louise decided to put together a project using Art as a platform for these mums to come together and express themselves through creativity and meet like-minded young mums.
In addition Louise decided to add Personal Development Coaching to support the women. The idea behind adding in coaching was so that the women could discuss life aspirations, breaking cycles of discontent, increasing mental well-being and setting goals for future achievements. One of the mums was keen to become a role model for her young daughter and inspire her to do more with her life.
The evaluation was carried out as a group activity where several questions were asked and the individuals were given the opportunity to respond to the questions.
This evaluation was to capture a year’s worth of activity and look at the impact of the project on the young mum’s that attend on a term time weekly basis. This evaluation feedback was collected from 5 mums and 2 grandmothers.
1. How has this project been supporting you?
• One of the mums said that this project has ‘helped me because from the start of mums +, since Jan 2019, I have come a long way with life coaching, and feel I would not be the same today if I did not attend mums+. I have somewhere to come to and look forward to in the week and it is good for me. Having a routine of a set time and place has been really good’.
• One of the Grandmother’s that attends the project on average once a month said that the coaching has helped with her confidence and self-esteem, feels nice to catch up with other people at the project, to hear what they are doing, get some advice, share problems and help and support each other.
• Another mum said she enjoys coming to the project because through coaching she has learnt how to set future goals, aiming for more and has helped to achieve some of the goals.
2. What key things has this project given you?
• Rachel has helped a lot with different skills for example sewing, drawing, painting, expressing yourself in different kinds of ways
• Expanded knowledge of first aid, sexual health, conflict resolution with people in our lives
• Relaxation and meditation
• This project has given us a life
• Good for me to get out and about as a first time mum
• Good for my son to mix with other children and play
3. What do you think you would have been doing if you did not have Mums+ Kingston?
• Sitting at home watching TV
• Crying and stressed
• Moaning at the children
• Would not have come out and interacted
• Another Grandmother that attends regularly said that she looks forward to coming to the sessions as she gets out, interacts, and gets to speak to other people
4. What do you feel the challenges have been accessing this project?
• A young pregnant mum said that the ‘challenge has been getting to the project not the location but keeping motivated throughout the week and feeling good about getting to the sessions, especially as I am pregnant’
• One mum said that feel that I have a purpose to attend so if there were any challenges in the week in life I felt that if I could get to Fridays mums+ session I have a place to express myself and them throw all my worries and concerns onto Apinder, the life coach and shares the challenges with her
• One Grandmother said her biggest challenge to initially coming to the sessions was Anxiety, which was stopping her. She felt what people would think of her. The reason she finally decided to come was to accompany her daughter and baby grandson as her daughter also suffered from anxiety but once she was in the session she felt a lot better. She still feels anxious but knows there is always a warm welcome waiting for her and her family
• Knock on effect from one person in the family attending to then dragging others so in total 5 members of one family attend every week
5. What can we do to improve the service or the project post this cycle ending? Do you have any recommendations?
• Because I am pregnant, I think it is important to have more people going through similar experience to share the experiences with and support each other. Need to promote to more mums and mums to be
• The purpose of Mums+ needs to be shared more widely to help the mums to get back into education and to help them to go back to work and show them they have options
• Give Mums the right help and advice
• Have more external people come in and give advice and guidance on different topics and advert and promote this to more people to encourage them to come to the sessions
• People to come in from the council and other charities that support parents and children
• Maybe more activities for the children too
• Would like to learn more skills on supporting own children, maybe on potty training, helping your child to sleep better, working with difficult behaviours- access to tools to help our children
• Maybe have a short questionnaire when new people join to ask them what they would like to get involved in and what they expect from the sessions
• Maybe the life coach could do an initial assessment with the new people to see what their needs are
6. What has the impact been on you personally as individuals?
• Feel like I am a better mum, although I always felt I was a good mum but feel like I am an even better mum to my 2 girls
• Feel more confident as a parent and going and doing different things
• Passed driving test whilst coming to mums+ and achieved a big goal
• Given me the confidence to look for a job and think about a future career
• Confidence to express my own opinion if I am not happy about something rather than previously just accepting what others said to me even if I knew it was wrong
• Not as anxious now to meet new people and try new things
• Feel have come a long way since joining the project in January, feel like I am a different person as so many bad things happened to me last year and helped with confidence, sorting out my life and looking forward to bringing my new baby when she arrives in late July. I know I will not be stuck indoors and have support
• Have a support network around you
• Not struggling on my own
• Do not feel judged if express own opinion or think it is a silly comment, feel accepted and listened to
• Able to ask questions without feeling silly
• Learning new things, building and progressing
• Shout out to Rachel and Apinder
7. Please give me 2-3 words to express your experience of the Mums+ Project
• Have a Life!
The group thanked Rachel, Apinder, Katie for the yearlong project and to Louise for the funding and creating this project.
The individuals thanked each other and were proud of the work they produced and how much they had grown as a group.
They all collectively agreed that the Mums+ project has supported them with different aspects of their lives from:
• Getting better housing
• Signing up for courses
• Passing driving test
• Supporting with pregnancy
• Paediatric First Aid
• Sharing birth stories
• Cooking healthy meals
• Creating through art
• Learning sewing skills
• Looking for voluntary opportunities
• Two ex-attendees found jobs with support from Coaching
• Having a place to come to where there is someone that listens to my problems without judgement but instead supports, encourages, listens and helps by giving me the support to make better choices in my life
The following sentence from one of the young single mums captures the essence of the Mums+ project and purpose- ‘I now feel like I have a Life!!’