A scheme which encourages parents who have received help from the City of Wolverhampton Council's Children's Services to "champion" the support available to other mums and dads has received another 2 national awards.

The Parent Champion scheme had already won 2 awards from the Coram Family and Childcare Trust since its inception in 2016 – and recently collected two more.

Scheme manager Reeta Shemar was named Coordinator of the Year for the second time, while Zoe Taylor was named Volunteer of the Year. The awards recognise the great achievements of the scheme to meet the needs of local families over the last 12 months. 

The Parent Champion scheme recruits parents to talk to other mums and dads about their experiences of Children's Services. The volunteers work to build trust among families and inform parents about the various opportunities available to them, such as free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds.

They also offer a 1 to 1 support service to encourage mums and dads to get help from their local Strengthening Families Hub or Headstart Wolverhampton, and support families of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities to enable parents to have their say on the development of services. 

Parent Champion volunteers like Zoe have also been busy shaping how the services look moving forward, setting up the term time Step Ahead group for parents struggling with mental health problems which meets at Central Library on Thursdays from 10am  to 12pm, and providing support through Job Centre Plus offices.

As well as helping others, the Parent Champions reap benefits of their own; becoming a Parent Champion strengthens participants’ employability by developing their skills and confidence, with a number going on to secure paid employment or join training programmes thanks to the support they receive in their voluntary role. 

Emma Bennett, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Children’s Services, said: “Winning four awards in the last 3 years demonstrates the impact the Parent Champion scheme is having, and how committed our wonderful volunteers are in helping families across Wolverhampton."

Reeta said: "The scheme is a fantastic example of what the benefits of volunteering as a Parent Champion can bring, and I would encourage anyone who is interested in taking on this important role to contact us to find out more. 

"The volunteers give a few hours a week to talk to other local parents about the services which are available to them, and because they are parents themselves, they are able to share their own experiences in a relatable, trusted and informal way.”

Zoe said: "I have a history of mental health issues, and becoming a Parent Champion has given me an insight into myself, my abilities, strengths and weaknesses. I have learnt how to accept myself and in turn this has helped me help other parents who may need support.

"I am proud to have been named Volunteer of the Year, which shows that, even with drawbacks, issues and mental health problems, you can grow and achieve."

The Parent Champions programme is run nationally by the Coram Family and Childcare Trust, a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues. For more information, please visit Coram Family and Childcare Trust.

For further details about volunteering as a Parent Champion, please call Reeta Shemar, on 07464 981 888 or email parentchampions@wolverhampton.gov.uk.