In this series of ‘Meet the board member’ blogs we want to celebrate the expertise and what inspires our board members to work alongside us to give our children the best start in life.
In this first blog we meet Mel Astin, Project Manager at BD4 Family, find out how the Nike tick inspired her to ‘just do it!’
My journey started 18 years ago. I was doing youth work in my local area and saw first-hand how damaged some young people were. I knew I had to play a part in changing this and I really believed in order to do that I needed to start earlier in a child’s life.
I got the picture of the Nike ‘just do it’ logo and believed it meant that I needed to start with the youngest through to the eldest member of the family and just ‘go and do it’… so I did!
During that time I was blessed with three children of my own to love and raise. I learnt pretty quickly that in order for my children to feel happy and have a good day, it depended solely on how I was feeling that day: ‘happy mummy, happy child’. I realised (thankfully) that I had to put my focus on them and constantly remind myself to see the world through their eyes and not my own. This wasn’t always easy and like everyone we had good and not so good days. But I loved reading and singing and doing lots of different activities with my children every day.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I took over volunteer leadership of the Parent & Toddler group that met every Monday morning. I was aware whilst doing this that parents were more than happy to share their stories and often asked for support or advice on various parenting concerns.
Once all my children were in school I continued to do what I was doing at the toddler group, but with the hope that I could start up more groups to encourage local parents to have fun and play with their children in a safe place where they can make friends and get support.
BD4 Family – 13 years later
13 years on, BD4 Family has gone from one Parent and Toddler Group to now offering eight different groups each week from parent and toddlers to nursery preparation groups and groups focusing on friendship and support for pregnant parents. All groups focus on the parent and child relationship and positive parenting skills. We also now offer four evidence based parenting programmes to complement our weekly provision: Family Links Welcome to the World, the Nurturing programme, HENRY and the International association of infant massage.
We also have 11 amazing volunteers to help us do what we do. Some of whom have attended our sessions with their own children and now want to support others. We have three passionate paid members of the team and myself as manager. I wouldn’t be able to do any of the groups on my own and I feel so blessed to have such an amazing group of people who get what we do and why it’s so important!
Our families feel welcomed, loved, supported and safe. Which is so important to us, and in turn reflects on their children’s well-being, development and self-esteem.
There’s so much more I want to do to support my community and I’m excited to see what the future holds for BD4 Family and the children and parents we work with.
Hear in Mel’s own words all about her journey and what inspires her work.
by Mel Astin