For young parents in Buckhaven and the wider Levenmouth area, there’s a place they can go to escape social isolation and spend quality time with their little ones.
The Buckhaven Toddler Group was set up just nine months ago after a dads group was trialled at the community centre on Kinnear Street.
Although attendance was low at that group, two mums, Danni Biggar and Kayleigh Pearson, recognised the need for a toddler group in the local area, and decided they would set something up themselves.
The girls were supported by Fife Gingerbread, which offers help to lone parent families right across the Kingdom, after having taken part in its Teen Parent Programme.
Now the group meets every Thursday afternoon, 1.00 - 2.30 p.m., and things are going so well, Danni and Kayleigh, along with six other mums, are currently completing a course which will enable them to set up an official committee.
Danni, whose little girl Ella will be two in April, told the Mail: “We’re a few weeks into our course, and have started the training, and now that we are getting a committee set up, we can start to do fundraising and take the kids on little days out to the park and things, which will be good.”
Each week, the girls make sure the parents and children have lots of activities to do together, and encourage all of the families to get involved in play. There are around 15 parents and children who attend the group, including Karina from Methil who really helps to boost the numbers with one-year-old triplets Jamie, Jack and Jayden!
Danni, who felt very isolated after the birth of Ella, said the group is teaching the kids to be nice and play well with others, while for the mums, it’s a lifeline.
“For a lot of the mums, it’s really helping with their confidence, and helping to get them back out there. And for the young mums, we’re trying to help them back into college as well, and we have leaflets and things to give them the information they need.”
The Buckhaven Toddler group is supported on a weekly basis by Fife Gingerbread volunteers Janine Stewart and Shaleen Atkin.
Michelle Campbell, a volunteer coordinator with the charity explained that the group is vital to all of the young parents who attend.
“What they are learning there is amazing,” she said.
“It’s fantastic for their parenting skills and their confidence. And hopefully it helps to reduce the judgement that is constantly there and helps the parents to challenge that themselves.”
Michelle said the secret to the groups success lies with how it was set up and is run every week.
“This group was set up because the community wanted it, so it’s run completely for them. There’s no-one telling them how they should do things. They have been supported and encouraged to make decisions for themselves.”
Michelle explained the new course will help the mums to take ownership of the group through a committee and setting up a constitution. They will also receive training on things like child safety and food hygiene.
“The mums are getting an opportunity to learn through volunteering that they probably would never have had.”