Three months later, the sessions organised by Community Family Care have been such a success that they have won funding to continue for another term. And the parents who attend are over the moon.
For Ruth who has two children, aged 9 and 11, Tuesday afternoons at the Tewkesbury Youth Centre are about more than making snowmen out of a sock (although her snowman is pretty cool!).
“We get out of the house and do something completely different,” she said.
Annette Gresty agreed. “We go and pick up our kids and feel so much better. It’s good for our self-esteem, it’s very sociable and has cemented friendships,” she said.
The crafts on offer include jewellery making, sand art and creating cards and scrapbooks.
Rae Edwards, Family Support Worker for Community Family Care, leads the sessions. “The aim is to offer parents a break and some social time with people in the same situation,” she said.
“When your life centres entirely around your children, you may be very busy, but it can also be isolating. That’s when ‘me’ time isn’t a luxury - it can be a sanity check.
“There’s no pressure to make things. If someone just feels like drinking tea and having a chat, that’s fine.”
The first 12 sessions run by CFC were funded by the Healthy Together Trust through Gloucestershire County Council and took place in Brockworth, Matson and Bishop’s Cleeve as well as Tewkesbury.
When Severn Vale Housing discovered how successful the Tewkesbury sessions had been, it stepped in to help keep the group going for another term.
“We’re really grateful to Severn Vale for helping this to continue, and Tewkesbury Youth Centre has been brilliant in allowing us to stay. It’s a low-cost scheme with huge benefits,” said Rae.
Making a bag out of a t-shirt was Louise Bennington who has six children. “My dad looks after the two youngest for two hours whilst I’m here. It’s a real escape,” she said.
Marina Frances-Cosnett comes along with husband Neil. “We could do all these things at home, but we don’t. If you have to get out the sewing machine and find paper and scissors just for you, it doesn’t happen.
“It’s really cathartic and a way of expressing yourself. Every week I leave feeling uplifted, that I’ve achieved something.
“When we took the sock-snowman home, the kids were so keen to have one that we made some more and now there are four in the display cabinet.”
Abi Bunt, who is her husband’s carer, was making a picture out of buttons and card. “This gives me an escape for two hours. Sometimes I arrive feeling really wound up and doing something simple like rubbing sand has an incredible effect,” she said.
Community Family Care, based at Staunton, helps families, children and young people in need of additional support. It seeks to improve parents’ confidence, help with routines to get children to school, or more complex support dealing with challenging behaviours at home.