Village mentality – do we respect and do we even want it?

Welcome to part four of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit. 

We are not sure if there was ever a ‘golden age’ of raising a family but what we do believe is that bringing up children might have been easier when families lived near each other and they could rely on the wisdom and support of the extended family/community. In this podcast, we discuss some of the challenges of parenting today, the competing challenges for our attention and the opportunities to improve ourselves and our communities so that we can help others.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • If the saying “it takes a village to raise child” is still true today
  • The importance of collective leadership in the community
  • The value and importance of voluntary work
    Why self management is critical before we can helps others
    What placed based systems are and how they help communities

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How to raise community, political and wellbeing champions

Welcome to part three of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guests Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit and also David Shosanya.

We take the opportunity to ask our special guests what can be done by communities, faith groups and leaders to help disadvantaged communities to overcome some the key challenges that they face today.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The impact a 30 million word gap has on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • How the church can get involved in helping disadvantaged families in their communities.
  • The importance of political literacy.
  • The four key “hubs” that can make a significant difference to churches and the communities they are supporting.
  • The critical role parents play in being present in the lives of the children.
  • Why wellbeing interventions can help parents who are stressed or struggling.
  • The importance of operation black vote (OBV).

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Bling, love and reading

Welcome to part two of our four part podcast – developing brilliant people. In this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit and David Shosanya.

Being a parent today can be a challenging task. In this podcast we explore the importance of investing in our child and if music has a negative impact on our children.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • What role music plays in the way our childrens minds and outlooks are shaped
  • Practical tips to help improve language and literacy with your children
  • Why its important to invest in the development of our children
  • The principle of the 1%

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Black boys and the disparity in their achievements

Welcome to part one of our four part podcast – developing brilliant peopleIn this podcast we are joined by our special guest Sir Simon Woolley – founder of Operation Black Vote and the Chair of the Race Disparity Unit.

The UK governments findings suggest that black children are failing at each key stage at school. This short podcast explores some key topics and issues that address some of the those findings.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The impact of not having enough black teachers in schools.
  • The importance of having the right perspective.
  • The impact of dysfunctional homes on a child’s life trajectory.
  • Why it is critical to have a clear plan to help children.

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Hungry Little Minds and how the DfE is partnering with the IOW

In this episode we are joined by our two guests Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

The Department for Education shares with us more about their recent national campaign “Hungry Little Minds” and the IOW give us insight into how they are taking this national campaign and delivering the messages locally.  You will hear from both organisations as to why they believe it is important for parents to help their child develop good language and literacy skills through chat, playing and reading together.

– David Shosanya
Good afternoon listeners. We’ve got another podcast coming to you from the desk of the Institute of Wellbeing, all the w’s, The Institute of Wellbeing dot com. Our two guests today are Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and Mike Kelly who is the CEO, Chairman and Founder of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– David Shosanya
Welcome to this podcast Rox and welcome to this podcast Mike.

– Mike Kelly
Good afternoon David. Good to see you.

– Rox Hussain
Good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

– David Shosanya
Absolute pleasure. We’ve got a couple of questions but can I ask you just want to talk to you about a bit about this campaign you do in the Hungry Little Minds campaign that the Institute of Wellbeing is involved at the moment as a partner with the DfE. Rox I wonder if you’d just take a few moments just tell us a bit about the Hungry Little Minds campaign and what does the Department for Education the DfE want to achieve through its partners.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. So improving early communication language and literacy is a key priority for the government and we know that some of the poorest kids in the UK start school behind their peers and the gap can grow between their school years. So in July 2018 we announce government ambition to halve in 10 years portion of children that finish reception school without communication language and literacy skills they need to thrive. It’s a big ambition and we know that. So as part of that endeavour, DfE launched Hungry Little Minds which is a three-year campaign to encourage parents and carers to engage in activities that support their children’s early language and help set them up for school and beyond.

The campaign is seeking to highlight. It’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice through our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

Okay. The campaign is seeking to highlight it’s never too late to help develop your child’s communication, language and literacy skills and will also provide practical advice to our partners on how to fit quality interactions in parents daily routines. It’s as simple as that.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. It gives us a real clear understanding and tell us DfE’s working in a number of partners, can you tell us how you identified those partners.

– Rox Hussain
So in terms of working with partners we, kind of started from a robust evidence based. We worked with our behavioural insights team and then we commissioned 73 research sessions across the country hundred and four parents carers and we also then engaged with a range of early years stakeholders and like the IOW across the country and we got our partners to help us identify the best campaign approach to raise parental awareness interest and engagement to test some of the campaign elements including the brand, the tone and to understand the audiences from the different perspectives in terms of the audiences the partners serve and so that was it essentially and when we have a number of those strategic partners that we work with.

– David Shosanya
And the campaign was launched earlier this year, can you just tell us a bit about that campaign launch.

– Rox Hussain
Okay so we did a very soft launch in July 2018 so the campaign was launched and the idea was to kind of bring together a number of partners to be able to kind of take through the messages of the campaign. So it’s the idea is that you know you have a national campaign and then it’s the partners who will take those messages locally to embed those messages with parents.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. That is a real absolute pleasure because I was able to attend that campaign launch at the Sanctuary Buildings in the West along with Mark Kelly who is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Wellbeing to see all the other partners and to hear very positive messages coming out from government and really wanted to congratulate you on what the DfE has achieved so far through this through this campaign.

– David Shosanya
Mike could you tell us how long has the Institute of Wellbeing been work in partnership with government agencies and what your unique approach and contributions to the Hungry Little Minds campaign.

– Mike Kelly
Well it’s an interesting question. I suppose the first one’s quite easy to answer. We started as an organisation in 1999 and we got our first bit of funding from the Lord Chancellor’s department back then again 2000.

– David Shosanya
That’s now the Ministry of Justice.

– Mike Kelly
The Ministry of Justice and since then we’ve had a longstanding strategic relationship with central government for national impact. The Hungry Little Minds Campaign I think is a necessary piece because as Rox mentioned the parents who want to see a change some activists including Sir Simon Woolley, there’s just so many change agents that exist and what we’ve done is carried that message to those agencies for them to deploy the message through their networks and I think it’s making a amazing impact. The campaign’s only been running a few months and everyone we’ve spoken to is actually quite excited about what our approach is. Just to add to our approach we we’ve generated what we call Wellbeing Champions.

Where there is an advocate within a setting that will represent what we’re doing, give information and material and set up groups if necessary to speak to parents to encourage them how to set up spaces and places within their own homes where chatting, playing and reading is taking place and we call those home learning environments. Sounds a bit technical but in essence it really is just a safe space the creative space where children chat, play and read but you may argue well I don’t actually have that sort of space at home – we’ve given you tools that you can just walk along to the shops with your child and you know engage with them in chatting, playing, counting the apples and looking at colours playing or jumping over the puddles as you go there and creating that connectivity because it’s not so much that children who are disadvantaged don’t play, but there’s the educational supplement added through the play through, the chatting, through the reading which gives confidence and helps children to actually do better at the age of five.

– David Shosanya
The Institute of Wellbeing has created a number of resources that are available to parents via your website. Just tell us about those resources how we can access them. I know you’ve got particular Black History Month resources available online because it is October but tell us a bit about the resources that are available online.

– Mike Kelly
Well there is quite a large number of resources and most of them are free. I’ll start with the paying ones first and we ski downhill. There’s courses online for practitioners who work in earlier settings who may want to understand how to improve children’s wellbeing within their setting. So that’s quite a professional course. There are parenting classes that someone who may think you know I’m not actually equipped to deal with my lovely little child and as the saying goes the children didn’t come with a manual. But then if we go down we’ve got policy papers where people can look at what has wellbeing got to do with dot dot dot.

These papers are great. Then there’s the specific pieces of work which you can download or information you can download to do with the Hungry Little Minds and they are from bookmarks to posters that you can put up in your setting. Leaflets giving you quick wins and hints and tips on how to incorporate chatting, playing and reading in your home. But then like you said there’s the Black History Month thing and you know encourages parents to help to have their children help them to cook to count to read.

As I said it’s very very simple but very impactful very bright and colourful messaging and like I said David you know it’s actually creating an impact. The take up has been pretty good. Most people respond to it favourably and I think more importantly, churches have been very keen to distribute that information. There’s been zero denials. There’s no one we’ve spoken to that said she’s not for me. So therefore we’re encouraged to continue.

– David Shosanya
And I know that this material as going is available to Mosques, Gudwaras, schools I know that The Institute of Wellbeing is doing some stuff in schools and with children’s departments and with various boroughs so it’s a busy time for the institute. So just to let people know that’s available online, all the w’s the Institute of Wellbeing dot com – lots of accessible information.

I also know if you download the Black History Month resource you can get access to the “don’t be a jerk chicken” recipe online and it’s a play on some of the stuff that’s been going on in the media lately with different organisations and companies trying to produce jerk recipes but there’s an authentic jerk recipe that you can get online once you download the Black History Month resource and you can cook a piece of chicken with a neighbour with your friends, cook a piece of chicken with your child and that’s just an easy way of helping a young child understand something about black history month while Rox we’ve heard a lot about chat, play and read, can you just tell us from the Department of Education point of view what is the importance of chat, play and read.

– Rox Hussain
So it’s as simple as it sounds. The evidence shows that engaging in activities like chat, play and read supports parent child interaction and that’s sort of crucial for child development and we also know that parents and home learning environment actually have the biggest influence in a child as opposed to the school. So it is really important that we encourage parents to do this in the home.

– David Shosanya
Wow. A bigger influence than the school. Most people would think the school has a bigger influence because they’re spending much more time there but the evidence says parents do.

– Rox Hussain
And that’s what we’re trying to encourage, that actually parents have a really critical role in preparing children and getting them ready for school and the role that they can play in closing the word gap.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I mean if you’re a parent listening to that I think that’s worth taking a few moments. Your child may be at school for six or seven hours a day. Maybe at a nursery, away from you for a period of the day, you may think you’ve only got three hours in the evening. But all the research is showing that the biggest impact that you can have on your child in terms of their formation during that period when their brain and or their social faculties are being informed is not the seven or six or five hours or three hours they spend in nursery, it’s how much time they spend with you.

– Rox Hussain
I think in terms of the 0 – 5 obviously as kids get older interaction in school is slightly different but at the 0-5 we know that the parent’s influence is the biggest.

– David Shosanya
Yeah I hear that and that’s the focus range for the Hungry Little Minds campaign and I think it’s something worth well noting as a parent.

– Mike Kelly
Can I quickly just add something, when we were designing our campaign material we wanted obviously to complement the Hungry little Minds campaign but we also wanted to make sure that it was accessible at a local level. Very targeted to specific groups. We had to consider the homeless. We had to consider those with overcrowded homes. We had to consider the parent who comes in late from work who may not have five hours in the evening to spend on their child. They may have other children they’ve got – let’s take a schoolteacher. They’re going to be working late in the evening. They’ve still got to prepare meals. So what we wanted to do was create products or information that was quite agile and user friendly for whatever state you find yourself in.

Like I said if you’re homeless you may think well this doesn’t apply to me because we don’t have a space in a home to create an environment, but as you go wherever you are this information is useful. So if you do get a chance as we’ve already highlighted that those tools, those hints those suggestions, are all over our Website.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. And just to remind you were talking to Rukhsana Hussain who is part of the Early Years Social Mobility team at the Department of Education and also to Mike Kelly who is the founder, CEO, Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing and we’re talking about The Hungry Little Minds campaign and the importance of parent interaction with children between the age of 0-5. I’m then ask you another question in a minute Mike and I’m going to come back to you Rox and then give you your word as well to ask you how important we’ve talked about how important chat, play and read is.

I’m going to ask you each to just give a word of encouragement to parents of children who are in the 0-5 range, but let me ask you something. We’ve heard about the campaign from Rox. We’ve heard how you at The Institute of Wellbeing has contextualize it and made it relevant and accessible to different communities faith communities, BME communities, businesses and so on. What I want to ask is if someone is listening to this podcast and they’re saying this is what we want to be a part of we want to partner with the Institute of Wellbeing – how can they do that?

– Mike Kelly
Well, you can partner a number of ways and I suppose the quickest and the easiest way for you is to visit our website. There you can be guided to something that will serve you. It could be just simple bits of information or it could be participation on a course it could be we want to commission you so all joining instructions are there. But like I said if it was just a matter of I need a quick hint tip bit of support today to help me along my way with my child definitely visit the website. Also look out for us on our social media’s because there’s a lot of information being circulated through all the media’s Instagram, twitter, facebook and such the like.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. About Mike and I think I’ll add to that there’s a monthly newsletter that comes out so you can subscribe on the Institute of Wellbeing web site. If you download the Black History Month resource again you’ll leave your email and we can get you on board with that and just to let you know as well there’s going to be a number of subject expert days that are going to take place throughout the year and those subject expert days are when the Institute of Wellbeing bring you into contact with people who are experts in their field and we’ve got two people coming up soon who are going to make a contribution to our subject expert day later on in the year.

One of them is Dr. Albert Okoye who is a consultant paediatric psychiatrist and he’ll be looking at how you can build resilience in your child and then we also have Dr. Grace Caluori who’s a B.A.C.P accredited psychotherapist and also one of the government’s pioneers in terms of the pit program for young children and she’ll be talking about how you can use unstructured play to deal with toxic stress in your child and that’s going to be free and just need to look at the information on our website. We’ll tell you about the dates and the times and so on. So look thank you very much Mike, thank you so much Rox. Just one last piece of encouragement. There’s a parent this listen to this with a child age 0-5. I’m going to ask you Rox what single piece of advice will you give that parent.

– Rox Hussain
Okay. I would echo what Mike has said. I’d encourage parents to feel confident and empowered to adopt chat, play, read behaviours because they are critical in terms of communication language and literacy development. Chances are the parents are probably already doing a lot of this point in the campaign and working with partners like The Institute of Wellbeing is that we’re taking messages to help parents to understand the why, the how and what they need to do.

– David Shosanya
Thank you very much. More chat, play, read, why how and what you need to do. Thank you very much. Mike. what would you say.

– Mike Kelly
Don’t panic. The first thing is don’t panic. Just know that the chances are your neighbors facing the same stresses and anxieties that you are. Visit our website and then you know you can then take a pragmatic approach in raising a child if you start early the chances of success are even greater.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. Roxanna Hussain part of the Early Years Social Mobility team in the Department for Education. Thank you very much. Mike Kelly founder, CEO and Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing.

– Mike Kelly
Thank you.

– David Shosanya
If you’re listening to this, you want some more information – all the w’s. The Institute of Wellbeing Dotcom. Speak to you soon.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Some of the drivers behind the Department for Educations (DfE) latest campaign – Hungry little Minds.
  • How the DfE selected its partners for this campaign
  • A brief history of the IOW’s longstanding relationship with the government agencies.
  • Some of the initiatives that the IOW has created to support the UK government’s Hungry Little Minds campaign.
  • The IOW and DfE’s view on the importance of parent and child interaction.
  • What the research says the biggest impact on your child’s formation is.
  • How the IOW defines what a home learning environment is.

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Wellbeing

Donna Murry-Turner shares how change starts by meeting people where they are

We all have moments where it seems like what we’re trying to do is just impossible.  The thing that is sometimes overlooked and that our special guest this week, Donna Murry-Turner from ANOS (Another Night of Sisterhood), urges us to remember, is that we’ve already accomplished so much to get to where we are today and that change in the lives of those most in need often starts by simply just meeting those families where they are. In todays podcast Donna talks about using this understanding and belief to help bring about changes that create a legacy for future generations.

– David Shosanya
Well hello is another podcast from the desk of The Institute of Wellbeing. IOW all the w’s at The Institute of Wellbeing dotcom and we’ve got every member of the team here today and our special guest is Donna Murray- Turner from Another Night of Sisterhood. Other guests include Rukhsana Hussain who is from The Early Years Mobility team at the Department of Education and then we’ve got Claire who is our Program Manager. Ricky who’s our creative techy guy and all round good guy and then we’ve got Michael Kelly who is the CEO, Founder and Chairman of The Institute of Wellbeing. Welcome to this podcast. Donna really excited to meet you.

You’ve challenged the team and you’ve inspired our perspectives and got us thinking very differently about the project that we’re embarked on in Croydon around Hungry Little Minds and reach the parents of 0-5 year olds you do a lot of stuff but Ricky, I’m going to hand it over to you just to ask Donna the first question.

– Ricky Kalsi
Thanks David. Donna when we last met there was just a long list of accolades of things that you do and have been involved in and I think we were all very inspired about some of the work you do particularly those are really you know most in need in our community and I guess I kind of walked away from that meeting thinking we got a real sense of what you do but can you tell us a little bit about why you do it. What’s really driven you to – you know get involved in so many of these kind of community projects and just enough to keep your finger on the pulse. So yeah, I’m just keen to know why you do what you do.

– Donna Murry-Turner
I think I have an innate sense of community and that was something that my parents taught me I saw in their everyday lives. My mom had her own ladies group, that my father helped a lot of older West Indian men learn to read – up update my reading ability so I’ve seen it first-hand.

When I started, my father died and I suddenly became the head of the family and there was something that for parents we were having a spike of knife crime at the time in the borough and I realized by asking my friends who would in the social care industry and have been there longer than I had. I was like “well what is there for parents” and they were like “there’s nothing” and so I felt (and for me as well personally) my son at that time was year 7th he just started secondary school. I was no longer a mom of somebody in primary school.

That whole transition I was living that experience and so for me it was very real and the need for support and awareness was very real and I think that has continued to kind of spare me on the need of awareness the need to educate at the community level to take education away from the institutional frame that we always tend to set in and bring it right back to grassroots that these things can happen within the community and we can learn together. I’m a big advocate for peer learning.

– Ricky Kalsi
Amazing, wow. You know Donna it gives us a really, well certainly, gives us a great perspective on what the drivers are that wake you up in the morning to continue fighting the causes for the people that you get alongside each and every day and I thank you so much for sharing that.

– Donna Murry-Turner
I thank you for having me.

– Ricky Kalsi
No, thank you.

– David Shosanya
Well Donna, Last week when we met you gave us some really interesting insights about the work involved in before you do that. Tell us a bit about what you used to do because when you told us what you used to do I completely blown away by that, so tell us your journey working with a particular organization and what you did there.

– Donna Murry-Turner
So I used to for 20 plus years, I used to work for what is now described as the UK Border Force but at the time I work there was the immigration service and I was there like I said for 23-24 years. I worked my way from admin officer in Lunar House back in the day, I worked enforcement in Beckett house, I worked at Heathrow, Stansted and when I started having children I ended my days in my career there at Gatwick. So I have as a Chief Immigration Officer – I have a lengthy history of working within what would you call a civil service and definitely work in an airport with people.

– David Shosanya
So what does what does it look like being the chief immigration officer. You know I mean today you’ve got on metalic pink Dr. Martins, you’ve got bright earrings, you’ve got piercings. I mean how does a chief immigration officer look like you.

It didn’t go down well. It never did. I’ve always been Donna. Anybody hearing this and knows me will be like shaking their head. I’ve always been the big earrings in the piercings and the hair colour and I just I am me I can’t change who I am but it was again there was always a conflict my managers will tell you there was always ” Donna we need to speak to you about the blonde” you know “Donna we need to speak to you about the size of your earrings” [laughter]. Can you a tape over your nose piercing on the control because safety and all that. It’s been a constant my whole life.

– David Shosanya
Love it though because it just shows how authentic you are and that you bring yourself to the table and that shows up in and in our meeting and our conversations. That’s what this team has really loved about you that you seem to bring yourself unreservedly to what you’re doing. So at the moment you run a group in Croydon with some other friends and community activist called Another Night of Sisterhood.

Before I invite Mike to ask a question just tell us a bit about Another Night of Sisterhood, how it started, what you do, some of the topics you covered, just tell us about the group.

– Donna Murry-Turner
I got back to my comment about seeing that there was no provision within the community for adults and my ethos and that of the rest of the team has always been that is the environment in which the child grows that often not always but often sets the pace and sets the tone for how the child goes going forward.

So we kind of tackled the serious youth violence that was kind of engulfing our borough at the time from a different angle instead of working directly with the youth we thought we support parents and little did we know that it was going to be a service that was going to be you know highly subscribed. We started our first meeting was in April the 21st 2016, there you go and I had 95 women in Winterbourne Youth Club standing room only. When I asked them if I did this every month would you come and they said yes and I we’ve never – the only month we don’t have a meeting is in December and we try to do something fun as a group to go for a comedy night or whatever. Yeah we meet every month without fail. Last Friday of the month Another Night of Sisterhood meets.

We’ve done topics as differential as financial literacy because I think that’s important especially where we are in the north of the borough people understanding that’s something we’re not taught in mainstream curriculum But yeah, we expect people to be able to budget especially the onset of things like universal credit people get handled this bunch of money if they don’t know how to budget that things fall.

So we had to financial literacy evening and that was really good getting different – we got the Croydon Caribbean Credit union to come in. We had a speaker from Genesis. I tried to make it different to kind of give that whole spectrum not just one lens. We’ve done domestic abuse with domestic abuse champions for this borough. We have done serious youth violence. We’ve done communication in relationships. We’ve discussed congruence the necessity for consistency not just in our relationships in terms of parents but also messages we send to our young people you name it pretty much. I think we’ve discussed another type of system especially with societal changes. So our next one next week is on this – a training course specifically for parents on how to challenge the disproportional exclusions we currently facing this borough from our local schools and that’s both primary and secondary. So we try to make curtail are our reach to what parents have said “yeah I want I need, this I need the support” and we just give them what they need.

– David Shosanya
Talking about parents about us a lot of stuff that you’re doing and in our conversations we’ve heard so much more I think at this point I just really want to say thank you for the contributions that you’ve made to the community and the selfless manner in which you do it and the consistency with which you do and The Institute of Wellbeing is absolutely privileged to be working with Another Night of Sisterhood with the kind of integrity that you do your work with.

You talked a bit about parenting. Mike who’s the CEO – you want to answer that question.

– Mike Kelly
Yeah. Thank you for coming down and Ricky did say he wanted to ask you why you do what you do and we’ve only really talked about your period of time in the civil service and Another Night of Sisterhood but from what I understand you sit on so many important boards or you’re navigating conversations that really affect the wellbeing and the benefit of living within the borough. So, I can see that you’re addressing many of the pinch points that people are suffering or contending with.

There’s one thing that does jump out where there’s some crossover correlation and that is around the parenting course that you do very intrigued in that because some months or some years it seems that government agenda is towards parenting then it dissipates down to the children and then this about every child matters and then you know supporting the adult couple – but parenting I think is very important as you mentioned the environment in which a child grows up is a key indicator for their behaviour. So can you tell us a bit more about your parenting course.

– Donna Murry-Turner
I think in partly to begin to answer your question. I think that communication is often about knowing your audience and having an idea of how that kind of conversation will start. What it looks like. So for me the fact that everybody on my team is also a parent kind of helps us in the way that we construct the course going forward and being very real. So having you know also Chair of Governors at local school, having you know I think my finger is on the pulse in the north of the borough – I know what’s going on. I speak to parents. My time is not constricted and if you stop me outside the school gates and we’re there for an hour, then we’re there for that hour – so long that I haven’t got an important meeting. I’ve had parents who can’t put on the electric, can’t on the gas, who are waiting for that money to drop on Wednesday, it’s Monday and they’re telling me “Donna there’ nothing in the house”.

So the very realness and I kind of bring that back to my team that when we’re engaging with them in terms of educating them or bringing a certain there’s an awareness piece that we’re trying to bring to them. You first have to engage them at their point of need. So it’s very important that we kind of meet them where they are. So if I go to a home and the mom, I walk in and she’s apologized, I just set myself up by the sink and I start washing up with to have an engagement piece I’m still talking to you but I’m also showing you that I’m not better than or you know I’ll help you make the beds but let’s talk about we’re making the bed. It’s about meeting people at their point of need where they need the support the most especially for parents. I often say that outside of minorities and parents like the next judged demographic, your judged if you do it right your judge if you do it wrong the expectation is placed upon you and nobody, no child is born with it with a book a guidebook and every child is different and everybody’s needs and experiences as a parent that influence that journey is also different.

So yes it is very difficult and sometimes I’ll speak in a roomful of parents who won’t relate perhaps on Saturday. Give an example I spoke in front of the neighbourhood watch. It was in a private school in the south of the borough and as I walked in nobody there looked like me, nobody was reflective of where I come from in the north of the borough. I said that to them. I was speaking as a chair of safer neighbourhoods but in talking to engage in them I tried to illustrate the disconnect that we could all sometimes have in thinking that things happen over there to those people.

That’s what happens to them and that probably helps them over there because they like that and just breaking that down and saying (crime that was a topic for the day) that it happens, parenting happens to all of us young people impacts the whole community.

So there’s no disconnect from it. I think stressing that as well and also showing very very big on sharing everything about my personal life but sometimes the sun is delivering I think it’s important that you share with other parents where it’s gone wrong because all too often in parenting we get it more wrong than we do right. So there is a feeling of we’re in this together. If I can share with you from my own my own reference “Yeah this is way way completely wrong”…

– Mike Kelly
So you take off the mask

– Donna Murry-Turner
Right but I’m doing two things. I’m taking off the mask I’m showing you that we’re the same but I’m also showing your resilience because I’m going to show you with my experience where it went wrong how I then made it back. That’s all part of it. It’s you know it’s not strategic It’s quite organic – but I think it’s important.

– Mike Kelly
So could you tell us the name of that course and how does someone engage with it, anyone of our listeners.

– Donna Murry-Turner
There is no one name for the course…

– Mike Kelly
Okay

– Donna Murry-Turner
It’s just having a conversation.

– Mike Kelly
Ok, fantastic.

– Donna Murry-Turner
I don’t you know, I don’t like to label and when we do have groups or parenting groups we don’t call them parenting groups we call them legacy groups because ultimately parenting is about your legacy what you leave behind you, that will speak for you. So it doesn’t put the judgment on it that parenting you know strengthening families, “you need to do this”, “are you doing this”, all these things I’m not doing. It’s about ensuring your legacy and we’ve had far more engagement once it’s been sort of patterned and labelled that way than if we perhaps call it a parenting.

– David Shosanya
Donna can I just ask you that – I’m going to come back to our community to Claire and Rox in a few moments. I’ve heard repeated “the north and the south”, “the north and the south”. . .

– Mike Kelly
Look across the tracks is the look here…

– David Shosanya
Tell us a bit about what you’re referring to and does that relate to legacy in any way and I would like to hear you just talk a bit about Mike – you talked about the mask, taking off the mask, what kind of mask do you think parents could face. Because we’re encouraging parents to be involved in 0-5 year olds in a proactive way. I want to hear because what do you think about some of the masks, because you talked about the north and the south for people living in Croydon maybe listening to this podcast outside of Croydon, what is it, what is it you’re referring to and what are the legacies that inform them?

– Donna Murry-Turner
So, I’ve lived in Croydon all my life. My grandparents came here in 1959. The house I sleep in was bought in 1961 so I can actually answer this with a bit of historical context. So back in those days the majority of the wind rush generation as they were people from Southeast Asia – all of that whole generation set foot predominantly centrally and to the north of this borough.

South of the borough, in terms of black stalwart has always been predominantly white middle class and in terms of reference the better end of the borough. You have millionaires at the Webster’s Estate you have all of that. So in terms of the north-south divide, If you live in Croydon and I was talking about the north or the south or you from Croydon, you’d understand instantly what I mean. So that historical context has also lended itself to the fact that the predominance of a BAME community live in the north of the borough, essentially in the north of the borough. . .

– David Shosanya
What’s BAME in case anyone listening

– Donna Murry-Turner
Black, asian minority, ethnic.

– David Shosanya
Okay

– Donna Murry-Turner
Okay and we live in the north of the borough and in terms of serious youth violence and so on and so forth. The context the narration has been predominantly in the north of the borough. So it almost is like everything. bad or negative happens in the north of the borough whereas the same focus is not placed on the South. Yet when I meet with my colleagues who write interventions in the south. It’s it’s the same problems maybe not serious youth violence but there’s binge drinking, it is a different type of youth interventions or whatever.

There’s still domestic abuse but unfortunately maybe if you live in the north of the borough you can’t take yourself off to the south of France to get over it. Whereas if in the south you might have that financial ability to kind of self-intervene, do you know what I mean whereas in the north you have a much more reliable services blah blah. So there is that differentiation in how we talk about the south of the borough and in the north.

– David Shosanya
OK. Thank you. That’s very helpful in terms of just helping our listeners understand something about the context of Croydon. And also informative to us as well in terms of the work we’re going to be doing with you and other partners to realise that we’re dealing with different demographic groups. Mike you talked a bit about masks and before bringing Clare, Rox in a few moments. What were you referring to when you interacted with Donna and talked about the mask of appearance and a bit about that for us please.

– Mike Kelly
Well, could you imagine if we lived in a society where we wasn’t judged by the colour of our skin, the job we do, whether we lived in the south or the north or Croydon at all. The car you drive to school you went to etc.. What we’ve developed is you know social mask and we put on these masks and we leave our house wearing these masks to fit in to the way we live and sometimes masks are given to you and there’s an expectation that you must wear the mask if you’re going to function meaningfully in this zone and for some that’s a mask a mask of poverty. That’s a mask of crime and violence and gang violence or group violence or you went to the rubbish school. So you’re never really going to be much more.

So that mask follows you and someone mentioned being authentic earlier on, to be authentic you have to take off some of these masks but because these masks have been formed in your subconscious for such a long period of time. It’s like putting your skin off. It’s very difficult and if you then become exposed you become vulnerable and you may change.

So unless there’s some guidance, there’s some information, there’s that nudge, there’s that support as you unveil I.e. some of your training or some of our training or some of our systems – there needs to be that handholding as people take off masks especially the masks that don’t serve you, the mask that limit you and I find that like you said Donna we get judged as parents when we do good or bad and sometimes that self-fulfilling prophecy goes through to that legacy to the next generation of children who think well this is how my mum done it or my dad done it so this is how I ought to do it and they’ve inherited a mask and so you know if the social masks were visible we might be horrified to see how many mask we wear. I walk around and I can imagine wow she’s wearing 42 masks. You see what I’m saying and they may be different colors and different expressions.

So that’s what I meant by this pairing too much. This this this expectation and then you go into a school system in they are excluding you because of the mask that you’ve inherited and you and the parents of the teachers have been excluded because of the masks that they’ve inherited. So it’s just about setting safe spaces where we can put the mask down for a minute have that conversation and maybe not wear it tomorrow until it comes to a point where I don’t need it.

– David Shosanya
I’m thinking as you’re talking, as parent some sometimes instinctively I’m just think some of the mask that we where we wear the mask of perfection that we never let people know that we – our children know that we made the same mistakes or the mask of comparison that actually the person next door is better than me. I always say to people when I speak everyone in a social setting has got the best marriage, the best children the best friends until you follow them home. [laughter].

It’s not as if it’s not as ideal as the mask makes out. So it’ll be interesting at some point to just really explore that in a podcast around the mask, but we’ve talked a lot about what you do Donna. We’ve talked about the kind of challenges you face in your work and the kind of people you’re dealing with and when I say kind of I don’t mean that as if they’re a unique type of person but they give people individuals facing real life challenges. We’ve got to the point now where we’re recognizing that they carry masks but we’re grateful for the “why” for you and the “why” for The Institute of Wellbeing.

Rox is here from the Department for Education and then I ask what’s the “why” for the Department for Education and also you know you’ve got a question for Donna. So what’s the “why” for the Department of Education in terms of some of the things you’re talking about and the 0-5, chat, play, read initiative and then please throw your question to Donna.

-Rukhsana Hussain
Okay. So it’s at the why from the DfE’s perspective is that we know that some of the poorest kids start school months behind their peers and that gap grows through the school year and that can have an impact on child well-being but also the life aspirations. My question for Donna, listening to you and Mike talking about masks and what you were talking about in terms of parents supporting parents and that you take an organic approach and the one thing like from a public sector perspective is that we tend to use terminology and labels to define families or segment families in terms of the way we’re trying to scope my programs.

What did you say are the biggest barriers of engagement from disadvantaged parents that are perceived as hard to reach and the reason I use the term perceived hard to reach because you know the one that’s kind of common debates that we have internally are we the ones that are hard to reach or are the parents the ones hard to reach. What would be your perspective on that?

– Donna Murry-Turner
I think culturally in terms of engaging the populace we and I said this before we go about the wrong way in this country. We are thinking what’s described as a nation of shopkeepers and we kind of we are the people invented the civil service. We’re very good at making departments and having meetings about the meeting about a previous meeting. So we kind of sometimes get lost in bureaucracy that within itself can become a barrier. A parent who is not from that background has never worked in within that kind of setting that can often seem like a barrier to engaging with, you know I’ve been to meeting the parents are like “I’m tired, we had the meeting – we want outcomes” and it’s the understanding we understand working in a corporate setting that sometimes we don’t work to immediacy. There is a process that has to take place – parents don’t understand that and what we do sometimes is we don’t communicate that. We almost all because in our heads we know it’s going to come to a certain point but we don’t communicate that to families and especially to parents and we need to take them on the process journey with us.

We need to have more transparency in the way that we communicate with parents and I would also say one other parents once said to me that you know there’s a program and somebody from the Ministry of Justice rang me and said I can get this group of parents and the woman said to me “listen you know you know I’m tired of people pimping off of my poverty” and that has stuck with me forever more. I think sometimes that parents feel especially from the more disproportionately, socially challenged, cohort demographic that people only ever want to come in and people for their poverty there’s just no other way to put it.

“Also why can’t you feed your children that’s really bad” and we go through this whole thing with them and then we say “thank you for much for the information” and we go and they’ve just exposed themselves at their most vulnerable point. For what. And so this is why I was as an individual, as a practitioner I’m keen to partner with yourselves because I can see that’s not what you want to do. You’re looking in terms of legacy, leaving something behind, sustainability these are words I’ve heard but often parents you know they’ll get that at local level – they’ll get the education welfare officer that will come and wanna talk about about why “John is late” and all of these things and then they go. There’s never any support we take what we want from these people and then we disappear.

Now I’m the parent and you’ve just done that to me, my situation with John is no better, my living can do mine you’ve not helped me address any of my social issues, you’ve taken what you want, another poor woman with five children and four different baby fathers and then you’ve lost – you’ve left. So for me it’s about understanding that and perceiving understanding from a parent perspective why there is a barrier sometimes to engaging with statutory and I mean this could be the…. you know the admin at the school gates because of perceptions and also you have to factor in people’s own experiences of educational process in their own lives.

If you’ve had a poor education experience or it was negative at any point that may turn you off and you may transfer that in a way that you could you interact with the service when it now comes to your own children and that can be at every level. So it’s about kind of looking at it.

We use the word holistic a lot but it’s about looking at from every angle what does it look like from here if I’m a poor parent and I was raised by poor parents they were raised by poor parents and school was not important to any of them. It’s hardly going to now be fourth generation that we’re suddenly going to be on time and it’s not going to happen like that. Understanding that journey and also understanding from the corporate side how best to engage. So delivering letters and flyering does not make it but conversations with a bit of coffee and biscuits and just having that whole conversation you’re more likely to reach them at that point or a pastoral visit.

All of that increasing the outreach that we have in terms of visiting people in their own city. That’s massive in terms of engaging.

– David Shosanya
Thats really insightful because one of the things you really brought to our attention – we talked about in our team meetings but you really brought it home and you’re bringing home again, is that actually when you’re hungry and when you haven’t got a light, it is very difficult to read in the dark and it’s very difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach and one of the reasons why we’re absolutely delighted to be working with you is that you talked about the importance of not just community but doing community around food and just tell, tell our listeners what you told us about food.

– Donna Murry-Turner
For me food is very important anyway but it is very important in terms of community engagement because for poor people food is a way that we express we show our emotions to one another. If you are – if I invite you to my home and I cook for you it means that I have a certain amount of regard for you. I may cook my best dish for you. I mean if you’re from a different culture from me I may want to cook you my national dish. I’m going to put my love into that to give it to you. So food is a great leveller because we eat – families used to eat together and it created a safe space, it creates a space of expression and and other forms of nonverbal forms of community would call that nonverbal forms of communication often shown through food and hospitality especially if you come from cultures where that is very important and as I said again in the north of the borough where we have the most the biggest BAME cohort in terms of populists in Croydon.

So we understand that I know if I go into an Asian home and aunties going to that’s exactly what I would call her, is going to offer me tea. She’s going to want to stuff me full of food because she’s showing me I appreciate you I’m warm to you, you’re in my home. So it’s very important in terms of the whole community engagement piece and also for practical reasons.

I know where I am and where we meet in Selhurst. Selhurst is one of those six deprived wards in our borough – right. I know that I have women who access my provision who are what we call the working poor. So they work but they still have to access food banks because the wages just don’t make it. I have women on zero hour contracts they’re partners, they’re husbands may also be on zero hour contracts. They can’t afford for their child to be sick because that means there’s no pay for that day.

So we do food and we kind of we’re known for our brand come from work, bring the kids dem. I go to Iceland buy a big bumper pack of crisp and popcorn. Don’t worry about it. You know by coming to ANOS you will be fed and you’re not just gonna be fed any old food you gonna be fed food that is culturally competent to you. So we have hot food predominantly we do West Indian food because that’s the food that’s kind of sold around. We do vegetarian food. We cater for everybody but it’s a leveler.

When you eat there’s a sense of familial belonging and that’s what we’re trying to create that sense of belonging because that ultimately creates community. If you belong to me and I belong to you there is a bond now when you support, when you need support I’m there and it works and so we’ve seen its worked within ANOS itself. Friendships have started, buddying systems have started just by coming to ANOS that support one another support for one another – so I can testify that it works.

– David Shosanya
Again you getting us to get us to think and hope you get the listeners to think as well. We’ve we’ve highlighted a lot of challenges and we’re grateful to ANOS and others wrestling with these challenges . We’re making some practical provisions as well as The Institute of Wellbeing. We’re partnering with organisation like ANOS because we want to leave a legacy behind. We want to meet with people that are really, who, are facing challenges but who we can make a contribution to so if you go to our website there’s a lot of resources that you can download all the w’s, The Institute of Wellbeing dot com. We’ve got a special Black History Month edition, a little resource that you can just download and once you download that resource you can get access to a don’t be a jerk recipe and it’s just a play on the idea that all sorts of organisations have tried to produce jerk, jerk dishes and it hasn’t quite worked.

So we’re saying here’s an authentic jerk dish, a piece of chicken that you can just get a young child to season or even after you see it just taste it’s part of Black History Month. T

There’s 10 activities that you can do. There’s 35, another one with 35 activities that you can do and there’s a lot of chat, play, read stuff. We’re not trying. We’re just trying to say as well as the challenges there are opportunities and one of the things that we’re really excited about and we’ll be doing this in partnership with ANOS in Croydon and other places, we’re going to be running a number of what we call subject expert days and so far we’ve secured the services of Dr. Albert Okoye who’s a consultant adolescent psychotherapist and he’s going to be talking about how you can build resilience into your motor five-year-old child so that you can get them strong mentally so that they’ve got a strong disposition towards the pressures of life and they are not going to succumb so easily to the mental health challenges that may emerge out of a lack of resilience. We heard the one about our team meetings from our Program Manager – Claire that, that there’s a 60 percent disposition in terms of young people’s prevalence rate of them suffering with mental health issues and we believe you stem this when you prepare them when they’re young 0-5. We think we can do something about that. I’m not saying it’s easy but we’re trying to say these are some practical insights you can get from a consultant psychiatrist to help you think about building resilience. We also have a subject expert day contribution from Dr. Grace Caluori who is a B.A.C.P accredited psychotherapist and also Chief Executive of her own practice and does significant amount of work with children and family, was involved in pioneering the government’s PIP program and formerly a senior school teacher.

So we’re bringing expertise but we’re also a partnering with people like ANOS to bring practical support and resources. So when we do events together we’ll be honoring the spirit of community and food and play we and ANOS live by. So look out for our subject expert days, look out also for some of the stuff we’re going to do. Chat, play read fun zones, where we’re just going to create opportunities for people to come and our food and just tap play read and bring in storytellers and musicians and stuff like that just to be practical.

Now, Donna. You’ve been doing a lot of work and we’ve heard about the work you’re doing. Every time we speak there’s something new that comes out even today you’ve just been given another role to work with adolescents and it is just a lot of work. Claire in our conversations was was asking you a question I’ll give Claire an opportunity to just direct that question towards you now.

– Claire Kelly
Okay. Hi Donna.

– Donna Murry-Turner
Hi.

– Claire Kelly
My question to you is in terms of understanding the daily barriers that you say parents face. How best do you think that parents can subscribe to owning the importance of chat, play, read into their lifestyle?

– Donna Murry-Turner
I think that first. We need to ascertain if parents feel that chat, play read for themselves is important. As I said before. If I’m not a grandmother a quiet “bookish”, if I’m not into reading or I’m not into to any kind of then how am I gonna – you come into tell me that that’s what I should be doing with my 0-5 year old that’s fine but maybe I can’t even read. Maybe because of my own experience my own learning capacity is quite limited. Maybe English is my second language my third language even and then we can add on top to that all those sort of social barrier differentials that can kind of go around that.

So for me it’s about and has always been about, we had a piece at this once about education and one of our colleagues led a group, we do a lot of group therapy and a lot of the parents are saying yeah but the thing is, you know we were encouraging parents to read to their children in different voices and accents and because I remember when my father would not read necessarily but he would do Nancy stories and in that Nancy story, my father was Jamaican and the Nancy stories with the accent, we loved it, me and my brother and sister we loved that and we’re encouraging parents to kind of bring that intonation in their voice and blah blah and a lot of them like well that’s fine but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It’s not my own experience. I wasn’t read to. Nobody read with me. So I think you know if I’m going to be honest and be an honest partner.

I think that one of the places we might want to start is, at point zero, what’s your own experience? What’s your own experience of nought to five. Get some of that in the room, it’s a really good gauge then as to where you go forward in terms of encouraging them with their own nought to fives, ascertaining how they feel about it. If you’ve got a roomful of parents who perhaps are not academically gifted but you know to me if maybe reading is not their priority then you will know to curtail your next steps to suit that but I wouldn’t want, I wouldn’t advise going in and doing what we always do, which is describe them because this is what we want, you got to find out what the need is first. Again you do that by finding out what their own position is. Is that alright?

– David Shosanya
Do you have another question, because I know Donna does lots and lots of stuff and the Institute of  Wellbeing would like to support practitioners, is there another question you’d like to ask?

– Claire Kelly
Hmmm, I suppose I could go in what wellbeing means to Donna.

– Donna Murry-Turner
Wellbeing to me is massive and I like the question because not many people ask me but somebody once described me an event as being the Oprah Winfrey of Croydon. You know, as in, I must hear a lot and she, the person was right but for me Well Being is massive, sometimes I find it all quite overwhelming. Sometimes but I’ve got a mom at the end of the phone and I’m hearing in her voice that in whatever’s going on in the background. I find it quite, I don’t always know, I have to, I have to take time out to process. So for me my own support structure is airtight. I have some serious gatekeepers in terms of my friends, things they will allow me to have access to and things they want. I have spa days, I have, they will just be like we’re coming round we’ve cooked, we’re coming and I can then offload. Fortunately for me a lot of my peers circles and are almost mirroring so they are in the social care industry so they understand, so I don’t have to kind of set the props up for the play, they get it straight away and that’s really big benefit to me. I have superb mentors and people, borough commanders, leaders of, you know, people that have taken their time out and see potential in me and checking. I cannot, I would be telling a lie on them. People that I can rely on, even our good friend David here, you know will take the phone call and I would also like to say, that this helps me have a sense of well-being, because part of the feeling overwhelmed is sometimes I take I receive all this information, most of it is not positive yeah, let’s be honest. If I don’t have somewhere, where I can place it where I know it’s going to help the people who’ve given it to me, sometimes that’s very overwhelming.

So having people DFE, people like yourself, professionals like yourselves, open up a platform or make a space for me to be able to offload and say look this is how the people are really living. What can we do to give us a partnership to make it better. That for me is massive and I don’t think that I’m not professional but oftentimes at the grassroots level the feeling is we’re not taken seriously by those who sit at this level. So this for me is massive guys and I want to, just you know, really really say that and get that out on the podcast that it means a lot. It really does mean a lot and I don’t think the community, whilst they don’t appreciate it, I shall never forget it, because it’s making space for voices that traditionally not listened to but are the first to be impacted by legislature and all sorts of policies by having that voice to return from the, I call it bottoms up politics, they don’t realize it now but in about five years this will be massive, it’s like it’s almost like a reverse, it’s not top down this is bottom up.

What you’re asking for and what we’re working towards is real information, real life experiences, that will then go on to inform policy and for me having that chance and being that voice, I’ve been a voice for a long time but often people have not created spaces for me to say what’s really going on, so this to me is also part of my wellbeing, it gives me clarity, it lets me empty and made more safe spaces within my head and it helps me strategically, so thank you.

– David Shosanya
Thank you, I think we want to keep thanking you because you know what you do and I think it’s also worth thanking Roxanne who’s saying she’s realised, from the early years social mobility team at the Department of Education, thanking her for the way she’s consistently helping us to rethink our practice helping us to reflect on our practice, helping us to understand what’s expected of us as we partner with the government agencies and often helping us to frame what we have to say to community’s, so Rox thank you very much as well as Donna, for the work that you’re doing with us and helping us to become better at and to impact grassroots communities and it’s a pleasure to be able to introduce you to people like Rox and likewise so that we can all make a difference and bring about a real legacy for children and also for families in Croydon. Mike, I just wondered if you’d like to give us a few words in wrapping up.

– Mike Kelly
Sure, yeah, Donna I too want to say thank you for coming and sharing with us your brilliance, your experience the tenacity, does anyone else feel that energy? There’s this creative energy and looking for new ways of skinning the cat, you know, that’s just an analogy guys

– David Shosanya
Don’t do that with your 0-5 year old that could be a problem [laughter]

– Mike Kelly
So, you know what strikes me is you could be the conduit that’s needed in, not only Croydon but in between statutory services, central government, local government and other organisations, because you understand the rhetoric, you understand the policy but you have a voice that speaks to your community in it in their own words and that is that interface that has been missing for many. I’m sitting here and I remember having this conversation with David a few months ago and he talked about safe spaces and what you would describe it is and this is not a religious conversation but it’s what religious organisations ought to be doing. i.e. gathering the people feeding them, preparing them, keeping them safe giving them information and so on and so there’s connectivity there’s the golden thread in this room where we can embrace with, engage with the church, we can connect with government, we can get collective community advocates but not only just advocates, people who are not just freedom fighting for the community but actually support community, so that we’re not just gathering information to inform policy but to change policy and I think that’s what I’m sensing, you’ll be brilliant at and so whatever we can do at the institute, you have us as your friends but also your support network also if we need to open a conversation or a door, then we know we’ve also got you who can represent to communities and constituencies that we’re not necessarily having a voice in and so we’ve been fortunate that we’ve connected with central government and we’ve been with them for 20 years and that longstanding relationship has been really great.

For them to permeate that information down, this is where I think you, your, you stand alone. Not alone but you shine on your own. Are you with me and so the networks and the support networks that you have and the connections and the groups that you’re part of, I think we can help create that bigger impact, something that’s measured, something that’s obvious, something that’s proven, something that’s built to last. So I’d like Donna, if we could just take some more time, not today but as we go, to think about some strategies where we can work together, where we can make deliberate impact, preferably quick wins, some situations that you may be thinking need some attention and maybe we can share our parenting course review and then maybe can be, you can share and we can do something together you may want to adapt some of ours, we may, it’s just working together cohesively and I think we can make some impacts again, thank you.

– Donna Murry-Turner
No thank you guys.

– Mike Kelly
And you know what comes to mind is that maybe we should just do something off the bat, which is a gathering exercise where we can invite those people that we’ve talked about, the IOW can underwrite it, do you know what I mean and just get people in a room where we can start the conversations. What strikes me is we’re gonna make no assumptions about the literacy level of the parents, we’re making no assumptions about their financial status, we’re making no assumptions about their parenting skills, just get them in the room disarm them and then give them information, or share with them and build relationships so I’m excited about that, that’s my gut feeling.

– Donna Murry-Turner
Definitely

– Mike Kelly
I also want to say guys, thank you David for facilitating this podcast. I’m sure our listeners are going to appreciate how well you’ve done that.

– David Shosanya
Thank you.

– Rukhsana Hussain
I’m just echoing the thank you. I just wanted to say thank you. Let me be part of the conversation and I think for me, what I’m struck by is that this echoes you know what we’re thinking is that no one person has all the answers and that we all, as part, we want to make system change, we wanted to kind of work together and I think what I love about what IOW and with what you’re doing Donna Murry, is that you hold the parents voice at the centre of what you’re trying to do and that that’s important, that’s all I wanted to say.

– David Shosanya
And I just, want to say if you want to partner with the IOW and get some resources, we’re doing an exciting project in Croydon with the National Literacy Trust and also it’s going to be, is one of our partners and so if you want to be in touch all the W’S the Institute of Wellbeing dotcom if you want to be involved, if you want to download resources but if you want to be involved if you’re Croydon-based or if you’re in another part of the country, we’re doing a particularly interesting piece of work in Croydon called a ‘collective impact project’, looking around place-based collaborative work with different agencies and there’s tremendous excitement from cabinet ministers in the cabinet counselors, from the heads of departments in Croydon. So we’re really excited to be working in Croydon but across the nation but particularly in Croydon with ANOS to make a big difference, so if you want to be in touch, all the W’s Institute of wellbeing dotcom – look forward to speaking to you again soon.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Why Donna is so passionate about the causes she fights for and where that drive comes from.
  • What Donna used to do.
  • What ANOS (Another Night Of Sisterhood) does.
  • What divides the north and south of the Croydon borough.
  • The challenges parents face with parenting and the masks that cover those challenges
  • Why the DfE (Department for Education) is supporting disadvantged parents through its national campaign (Hungry Little Minds).
  • If there are barriers of engagement for disadvantaged parents.
  • Why Donna believes meeting the immediate needs of a family or parent is a critical factor to be able to introduce any other long lasting change.
  • How can parents take on the ownership of the importance of chat, play and read activities with their child.

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The blueprint to your childs early development with Nana Bonsu

In today’s episode we get into a topic that we have not had a chance to explore before on our podcast. Recently we have been talking a lot about the importance of building chatting, playing and reading with your child into your daily routine, especially since the UK Governments launch of the Hungry Little Minds campaign.

Our special guest today is Nana Bonsu – Head of Systemic Practice – Croydon.  Nana joins our podcast to share her thoughts and insights on how we can develop a strong home learning environment and why it is critical for parents to be involved in their childs early years.

– David Shosanya
Hello to everybody that’s visiting it is fantastic to be able to communicate to you again from the desk of The IOW – The Institute of Wellbeing and to talk about some of the projects that we are doing. We’ve just had a fantastic meeting with Nana Bonsu. Who’s the head of systemic psychotherapy at Croydon Council and she’s doing some really exciting stuff. Nana is here with us, Nana Please tell us a bit about what systemic psychotherapy is and how long you’ve been in the role and the kind of work you do. Just tell us a bit about this.

– Nana Bonsu
Sure, thank you David and so as you said my name is Nana and I’m Head of Systemic Practice in Croydon. I started in June this year and the remit of my role is to develop systemic psychotherapy and expertise within social care contexts. So that means recruiting clinical therapists to be co-located within a health and children’s social care to support social workers and families sharing their expertise around systemic principles and practices that help families through the process of change and supportive social workers learning around systemic principles. So we have just commissioned systemic social work to train five cohorts of staff, hundred and fifty five staff to do either systemic practice foundation level or a systemic supervisor manager training level.

Systemic practice principles essentially mean that you look at individuals within a context so that you don’t pathologize individuals and attribute problems and locate them within one person you recognize that individuals are in the context in terms of their fan context community context societal context cultural context and you recognize how those contexts mutually influence any individual in terms of how they behave, how they think and how they position themselves. So systemic principles will very much be a strengths based collaborative approach seeking exceptions to the problems recognize that individuals and families have agency and helping them to think through their challenges and their problems not for problematising pathologizing frame.

– David Shosanya
That sounds like a big shift from what things used to be and perhaps how we how we tend to approach particular challenges and problems, tell us a bit about how that approach is going to work in your context.

– Nana Bonsu
Yes.

– David Shosanya
And just tell us a bit about you explain to the teams domains, this sounds quite interesting for us tell us a bit about that and how it can inform parenting aswell.

– Nana Bonsu
Ok thinking about how systemic fits a social work context I see them as you know bedfellows or cousins if you like. If you think about social work practice it’s very much around advocate of families, supporting families for a process of change and enabling families to find their agency and systemic psychotherapy is very much of that ilk. It kind of came about in the 40s when their recognition of the schizophrenic patients who would be treated in hospital and then when they returned home to their families their symptoms would continue. There was a recognition that actually there was some kind of contextually that was contributing to the symptoms that individuals are having.

So moving away from this kind of siloed intervention to looking at matters relationally. So if I think about the work that comes through social care it’s all relational. There’ll be a relationship that family members will be having with each other that may be challenging or difficult, there’ll be a relationship that families will be having with institutions whether it be school whether it be police that they’ll be challenging or difficult or relationships that people have problems such as addiction or mental health. So for me everything is relational I see and think in a relational way, I don’t see things in that kind of individualistic way.

And therefore for me in a social care context systemic practice fits really really well. The thing I am speaking about in terms of one of the theories that is used in having therapy is looking at different domains and thinking about how we interact in different domains so domain of production where we’re very active in doing, the domian of explanation thinking about the why or how we come to be where we are and the domain of aesthetics, the artistry the value that one holds. And often I think when these campaigns such as the one that you are trying to – create a shift in a change in how families are engaging with young children around reading and communicating and one of the things about trying to create any change is to think about how do you get people to buy into what it is that your trying to get them to buy into and what I was saying earlier as we focus just on the domain of production that’s the doing so that might look like I imagine going on one of your online resources and getting the family to engage with them with their children. That doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the artistry or to the value of what we’re trying to do and that you have to pay attention to that just as much as the production. So just as much as creating the portfolio which families will support their children, you have to give as much credence to why what you say that you are hoping to see and that’s why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I think most people can have what type of therapy we call first order change so first order change is typically when an external factor will be organizing you to change your behaviour. So if I think of a social care context an external factor could be your child protection plan or you going to court proceedings or your child being removed. That may organize you around change but that will not be sustained and it’s not internalized. Second order change is where you begin to change your narrative and beliefs about who you are and what you believe about yourself.

So for instance taking it back to your campaign. If families can have an identity change around the importance of reading and communicating to their children that is going to be more effective in sustaining in the long term rather than “oh I’m doing this because you know I went to a workshop and they said that there’s e- portals online and I’m doing it for a period of time but I’m not really buying into it”. So it’s just about paying as much attention to the domain and production as you do aesthetics and explanation in order I think for change to be sustainable and for people to buy in and understand what you’re doing and why.

– David Shosanya
Thank you, a really valuable insight. Rox tells us a bit about the project and the campaign that Nana has been eluding to and you will also hear from other members of the team in short while.

– Rox Hussain
Thank you Nana for explaining what you do, so at the DfE we launched a campaign – 2nd of July called Hungry Little Minds and the idea is to support parents with parent-child interaction in the home because we know from the evidence that what a parent does in the home resonates right across a child’s attainment journey. I was particularly interested in what you were saying about agents of change and the different domains. And one of the things that we’re trying to do is with the campaign is to take that approach in terms of how your empower parents to make decisions in the home and it’s not about telling parents how to parent but when we are talking about the most disadvantaged parents and a number of different layers that they may be experiencing in terms of disadvantage.

– David Shosanya
Well thank you Rox. Really helpful. Nana – what unique insights does a systemic approach offer to parenting?

– Nana Bonsu
I think for me one of the things I love about systemic psychotherapy is its ability to think in a complex way but to apply it simply and that takes skill and experience.

The fundamental thing that you would do with the family is the that a systemic psychotherapist also known as a family therapist is a genogram and a genogram is essentially a family tree, and through that experience she can have conversations with people about where did your dad come from, who named you in the family, is anyone else in your family have a similar name, who in your family would you describe being close to, who would you describe having challenges with challenges with or distant relationships with, are their migration stories in your family, are their stories around difference in your family.

So genograms can give you just a basic (seems like a basic) pictorial representation of the family but one can be very creative in trying to elicit information about family and then from that conversation you can start to identify what we call unique outcomes. So if for instance your grandmother passed away but if your grandmother was here what would she say about what’s going on currently. What advice do you think she’d be able to give you.

So it enables one to think very broadly very widely. I think to also have a system of psychotherapy is very attuned to power and difference. So one of the things concepts that we use is called the social graces that the graces is an acronym. So G is for gender, R is for race/ religion, A is age another a is ability, C is class, the last C is culture, E is ethnicity and another E is education, sexuality and spirituality and just having that acronym makes one to think about what other stories and narratives that may be lending itself to the GRACES that this family inhabit and what GRACES may I inhabit that means that when I join the family I may be thinking about matters of similarity or difference and what other areas may I not be paying attention to. Is sexuality something I must be paying attention to in this family. Is ability something I need to be paying attention to, is class.

So again, it enables one to have a broad spectrum of thinking that apply in a way that is useful for families and I like reframing, so Rox is talking about that earlier. The idea that if one uses dialogue such as “well this child is very challenging” and develops a narrative around that or I could challenge that and say “this child is very passionate” and develop a narrative around that. It’s a very different discourse and a different entry point. So one of the other things I talked about is that often when we meet the families that we have referrals is often organized around the problem or worry and rightly so as they come to us for a reason but what other stories might not be privileging about this family and my experience and experience of all people that I come across and I love working with people is that people are survivors and they may not tap into that as a resource or a story.

So family therapy will talk about subjugated stories, stories that shine stories, stories out and come to the forefront read me and stories that people are not necessarily in tune to themselves and therefore agencies may inadvertently replicate very kind of problematised stories. So there’s more bad the narrative that somebody is presenting me.

– David Shosanya
Thank you again, very helpful insights to help us with what we’re doing and to help our listeners. I’m going to come back to you in a few moments. I’m going to ask you for your three top tips for parents with children aged 0 to 5. Three top tips, but it struck me as we had this conversation one of the things is that we’re all really concerned about is wellness and well-being. How do we promote wellness and well-being whether it’s in the staff that you work with you talked about your use of the team counsel getting training and systemic counselling or systemic therapy. You talked about parents being overloaded maybe not, not being able to function well because they’re overloaded. Again that could induce some toxic stress in children. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about in our subject expert day so look out for that we have a subject expert day coming up soon. Comeback to this website to this podcast will send out a bit of information about that. But even in our three activities of chat, play and read with children we’re looking at the wellness of children as well. There was a question asked earlier in our conversation by Clare about wellness and well-being.

– David Shosanya
Throw that question out there and see what we get..

– Claire Kelly
It was regards to the Hungry Little Minds campaign, in your area of expertise how do you think we can integrate chat, play, read or how important do you think it is to parents for parents to integrate that into their routine?

– Nana Bonsu
I mean I think it’s such a great initiative and I think it’s vital, we are in a digital age and I think the digital age has its advantages and disadvantages. And I think that that’s a disadvantage could possibly be you know devices being used as a way of as a way of replacing you know human interaction forms of a better word describing that sometimes when I’m on the bus I see a child with their parents and they’re in a buggy the child will be crying for the parents phone and the parent will give the child the phone.

That’s the interaction. There isn’t anything else I see on the other side. Devices are great because I know my children learnt Spanish through dual lingo and there’s a game they play called wordscapes and its brilliant you know you go up the levels how many words can you work out.

So you know is this such beauty in anything and I think it’s you know when one abuse is it that’s when the problems become so I think chat, play, read should be taken focusing very much on the importance of that communication with the child and I think I know that research talks about the brain development of children 0 – 5 It’s fundamental, it’s almost the blueprint there on after. There is a period in adolescence where the teenage brain always goes through a kind of computer analogy it kind of shuts down and rewires itself again…

– David Shosanya
Is that called teenage [jokingly]

– Nana Bonsu
Neuroscience showed that that neural pathways that get that can be changed and that the brain has a lot of plasticity. So it’s not to say that if things are not done at the 0-5 then it can’t be done later on so that’s important to say. But I think in terms of it being a foundation and a blueprint chat, play and read such nice little words ,really easy little words to remind parents of the importance of interaction.

– Nana Bonsu
And I think my experience of working families around attachment and thinking about how children interact and how they learn about themselves and their identity and learn relational connectivity is done through those very three things chatting, playing and reading that I was saying earlier that it has to be the same fundamental as washing a child, has to be the same level of need as feeding a child because one cannot nurture without interaction and we are relational beings. You see a child when the child is first born and a child looks at you it mimics what you do if you hold a newborn baby and you make facial expressions that baby will do the same to you.

– Nana Bonsu
So we are social beings from the very get go even with a baby in the womb. You know you can interact with a child in the womb. You know when I was pregnant and I used to tap my belly my boys would tap me back. So we are international social beings so that chat, play and read is interactional and social and it’s necessary for brain development and for identity. So I get to see some many things going forward is that the blueprint of all foundation.

– David Shosanya
For those of you that are listening within the London Borough of Croydon, exciting piece of work with various partners in Croydon. I’m just going to ask Rox to just tell us a bit about a partnership between The Institute of Wellbeing and the National Literacy Trust and then I’m going to come back to Nana who going to tell us about three top tips for parenting. So please Rox tell us about this exciting new initiative that’s going to take place over the next six months with the NLT and IOW.

– Rox Hussain
So part of the Hungry Little Minds Campaign and what we recognize is that once you can give national messages you do need to also kind of take those messages and embed them within community settings so they are place based and so we’re taking place based approach working with National Literacy Trust and we are going to piliot across six places across the country of which Croydon is of them and IOW will be leading on that – to bring together community partners across grass roots organisations, local authority health services that range of partners where you can interact with parents in their everyday settings to embed the messages of Hungry Little Minds – Chat, play, read and thats what i think we are tryign to do and there will be collective measures in terms of the heads to tell the narrative in terms of how our collective approach works much much more strongly in terms of an intervention than if we had projects working in silos.

Thank you very much Rox. Look out for updates on our website, some of them are going to be updates that come in terms of our newsletter that comes out once a month. So if you if want to receive a newsletter from the Institute of Wellbeing – the IOW then just sign up on our website and we’ll you would love to get you along. You can sign up there. We’ve got an online black history resource – 10 things you can do with your child between the age of 0 – 5, 35 things that you can do with your children between age of 0 – 5. We’ve got five top tips for your wellbeing, there’s a lot of resources that are complementary. You can download and you can tell your friends about it. And so we’re excited about what we’re going to be doing in Croydon and across London and across the UK.

– David Shosanya
So Nana…

– Nana Bonsu
No pressure!

– David Shosanya
Ofcourse not, we’re sure that your contribution is going to be insightful so what would be your three top tips for parents….

– Nana Bonsu
The first one I would say is predictability. I think it’s important for children to have routine and structure and having that predictability regulates emotional regulation. It enables a child to have a sense of purpose. I think that’s important. And then the other top tip is acts of kindness. Acts of kindness to oneself as a parent. It’s very challenging emotionally challenging but it’s also very rewarding and I think sometimes we can have we’re very good at judging ourselves against others judging ourselves against a sense of what we society tells us we should be doing by now as a parent and I think we’re very good at being judgmental myself so acts of kindness for ourselves and acts of kindness for others.

The third and final one put me on the spot, is recognizing that we all have capacity. I think that we are capable of great things and I dont say that light heartedly, I dont say that from a place of privilege I say it because I worked with many many many families that is 17 years where they have gone through the most terrible and awful traumas but they are still here and that gives me hope for for how how we as humans are capable of being amazing creatures and we have we have capacity.

– David Shosanya
I thought you were going to say chat, play, read, I’m joking, I’m joking, I’m just teasing you [laughter]. One last thing you talked about was acts of kindness and I thought that was very powerful and we’re all about wellbeing and the last question, thank you for your time – you’ve been absolutely generous today. So we really appreciate that.

– Nana Bonsu
That’s alright you’ve fed me well, so that’s good! [laughter]

– David Shosanya
The question I want to ask is “what does wellbeing and wellness mean to you”?

– Nana Bonsu
That’s a nice question.

– David Shosanya
Its Claire’s question.

– Nana Bonsu
It’s a lovley question.I think and it’s almost like going back to that artistry again. I think it’s about being authentic. I think being authentic with yourself enables you to be true to yourself and you make others to treat you from a position of truth and I think that’s, that’s what wellbeing is. Not allowing yourself to be something you’re not. Not allowing people to treat you in a way that you shouldn’t and that if your authentic to yourself It’s almost a way of navigating through life really..

– David Shosanya
Well thank you very much. Nana Bonsu, Head of Systemic Practice – Croydon. We’re confident with people like you in place the services that we offer people in Croydon and in other boroughs. It’s gonna make a difference in people’s lives. So thank you very much.

– Nana Bonsu
Thank you for having me. I wish you the best with chat, play and read.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • About Nana Bonsu’s role at Croydon Council.
  • What systemic practice is and who it is used by.
  • Some insights into how systemic practice can help parenting.
  • The theory of domains and the importance they play in delivering change.
  • An example of how family therapists use genograms to help individuals / families.
  • Why Nana feels that chatting. playing and reading with a child is fundamental to a child’s development.
  • How the DfE is reaching disadvantaged parents through its national campaign (Hungry Little Minds).
  • The concept of social GRACES and an example of how they are used by family therapists / social workers.
  • Nana Bonsu’s three top tips for parenting.
  • What wellbeing and wellness means to Nana.

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