The Training Opportunities for Young Parents (TOPs) programme aims to support young parents in their personal development while building a positive family structure.
It is run by Rathbone Training, a UK-wide voluntary youth sector organisation which supports young people aged 16 to 24 who have disengaged from society.
This exemplar will be relevant to those working with young families throughout Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire. It may also be of interest to other professionals including: health visitors, social workers, GPs, third sector organisations, training providers, and childcare practitioners.
The TOPs programme aims to increase young parent’s self-esteem and confidence, while providing them with a safe environment to meet other young parents and build a strong support network.
The project runs Monday to Friday in Glasgow city centre, with weekly outreach sessions in Shettleston, Drumchapel and Clydebank.
A free crèche facility is available while young parents take part in the activities and sessions provided. These are based on the needs of the parents/expectant parents who attend and one-to-one support and guidance is available, if required.
Parents are referred onto the programme where they meet a member of staff from the TOPs team. During this initial visit, relationships are developed and parent’s interests are explored with SMART targets identified. Parents are encouraged to attend the next available session and to take the first steps in engaging with the service.
Activities and session offered include: cooking, sewing, child development through play, CV building, parent craft, internet and home safety. First aid and food hygiene training, family planning, parenting matters and careers advice are also available.
Parents discuss the sessions with each other and make plans to attend together and meet within the community. Parents are given regular opportunities to voice their opinions on the work TOPs are doing and inform the development of monthly timetables.
New families join on a regular basis which means the TOPs programme is tailored towards individual needs as parents are at different stages of their personal development.
Parents who have attended the programme report a reduced feeling of isolation and judgement within the community. The activities have promoted a positive health and wellbeing culture which affects both parent’s mental health and attachment bond with their child.
Running sessions on a daily basis has helped parents develop their time management, creating a structure and routine which fits family life around education and employment.
There have been a number of outcomes for TOPs participants that were not initially anticipated including:
TOPs has been recommended by a number of services including the Family Nurse Partnership team, health visitors and social work department.
Rosemount and the Young Parent Support Base also refer families who have been identified as socially excluded and in need of a positive structure and environment to develop the necessary skills for parenting.
The TOPs programme aims to continue this presence and engage with young families by continuing to promote the service to partners, stakeholders, agencies, organisations and other professionals. The programme is also accessible to young parents who may want to self-refer.