COUNCILLORS joined members of a parent peer support group at a celebratory event recently.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council were able to see for themselves how their backing has helped the Parents4Parents group, which is run entirely by and for parents from military and civilian families in Colburn.

It offers free peer support to parents facing difficult circumstances when expecting or looking after their children.

In December the group secured enough funding from the council’s Stronger Communities programme, to enable it to produce a business plan and apply for a Big Lottery Reaching Communities grant. The application was successful and in December the group secured £136,000 lottery funding over three years, giving the group stability and enabling it to expand services.

North Yorkshire county councillors, Helen Swiers, David Chance and David Jeffels and Richmondshire councillors Karin Sedgwick and Helen Grant joined members of Parents4Parents for a celebratory event at Colburn Village Hall this month.

The celebration also marked the conclusion of the Take Our Words for It! project funded by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund, in which parents worked with a creative writing tutor for eight months to produce powerful poetry and prose describing how hard becoming and being a parent can be.

Parents4Parents project director and development officer Viv Schwartzberg said: “Our volunteer peer supporters use the written word to help parents to talk and think about what’s troubling them and we realised there was more to be gained from creative writing.

“Take Our Words for It! has brought parents from civilian and military families together and helped them to express and share with each other their most difficult feelings and experiences.”

The event included a documentary video, a spoken word performance from the Take Our Words for It! Writing Team and the launch of the book about the project.

Cllr Swiers said: “This visit is one of several I and county council colleagues are making to community groups around the county. These visits give us a chance to see first-hand a little of the great work being done by these projects and so many others in North Yorkshire. It’s also a chance to thank volunteers for their efforts and to see how Stronger Communities is supporting them.”

Parents4Parents was set up as a pilot in 2012 to offer confidential emotional support to parents facing adversity and stressful life events which affect their emotional and mental wellbeing.

The charity provides one-to-one support and runs small groups where parents support each other and a wide range of issues that can increase pressure on parents, from financial hardship to relationship issues, isolation and the effects of past traumas.

Viv said: “Being a parent is one of the most demanding roles you can have.

"If life is throwing other things at you at the same time you worry about it much more. Parents can be afraid to tell anyone, because they fear people will think they are not a good parent.

“We train parents who have had some of the most difficult experiences you can imagine to be peer supporters. They are skilled listeners. They don’t judge or try to persuade people what to think or do.

"People need the time and space that kind of support gives them to help them find their own solutions. The relationship that the peer supporters build with parents is professional, but at the same time very warm, caring and compassionate.

“We are achieving amazing results. The parents who use our services have told us that it makes a huge difference to their wellbeing – that it literally transforms their lives.

“The county council has been very supportive and the Big Lottery grant will give long-term funding to enable us to build and strengthen the organisation.”

Find out more about Parents4Parents, including the Take Our Words for It! project, at;