One Year On: ‘Parenting in the time of Covid’

We’ve been kindly supported by Mo Mark Mental Health Community Fund to deliver a programme of parent workshops and one-to-one support for parents from a refugee background. The aims have been to:

  1. Improve mental health and wellbeing for refugee parents in Battersea.
  2. Increase their ability to effectively manage their own and their family issues.
  3. Increase confidence by parents to seek support from other services if needed e.g., schools, Jobcentres, GPs, mental health services.

We’ve just finished another year and this is what we got up to.

Work Programme

  • 12 parent workshops were delivered during the year.
  • These were attended by 78 parents.


We held discussions with parents to help plan the workshops. We did this prior to the programme starting, and then again in May and September. We delivered a mix of workshops covering:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Parenting, family support and children’s education
  • Practical help with finances

The workshops

12 parent workshops were delivered. Most of these were online due to Covid restrictions.

Workshop Date Topic Delivered with
26th February 2021 Covid Vaccine, Information and Q&A NHS Public Health
5th March GCSEs, A-Levels, BTECs – Support your Child (Assessment/Exams information) Francis Holland School
5th May Coping with Stress, and Supporting your Family NHS Talk Wandsworth
11th June Post-16 Education options A Love to Learn volunteer and UCAS Lead at a Harris Academy
2nd July Living with Diabetes NHS Talk Wandsworth
16th July Parenting Teenagers The Elays Network
24th September How to look after yourself as a Parent Caroline Hanson, parent coach
15th October Money, Debts and Where to get Help Roni Marsh, South West London Law Centre
19th November Children with Special Education Needs Deborah Johnson, Head of SEND, Wandsworth Council
10th December 2021 Listening Skills for parents and Parent Celebration Love to Learn education team
21st January 2022 Early Help and Family Support Judith Passley, Early Help Family and Parenting Manager, Wandsworth Council
11th February Do you need help managing your energy bills? Susan Chappell, South West London Energy Advice Partnership


Sadly there was little choice about whether the workshops were held on online or face-to-face due to Covid restrictions. But parents who attended our face-to-face sessions expressed pleasure at being back in person. They said they found the workshops more enjoyable and easier to join in with. They were also happy they could use the creche.

Seven of the participants at our first workshop in September had not been to previous online workshops in this programme and several of these came to further workshops face-to-face but continued not to engage with online workshops.

When completing our end of project assessment we asked parents their views on online versus in-person workshops. There were mixed: convenience and accessibility were cited as reasons for preferring online workshops. The pleasure of leaving the house and being in a different place, ability to have young children in our creche and opportunities to share information and socialise were cited in relation to the face to face workshops.

Language support

Somali translation support was provided by our team upfront at all workshops (as needed) and Tigrinya translation support at three of the workshops.

Five parents who needed support in other languages or when our team were not available (Afghan Dari, Tigrinya) were provided with this at the workshops.

WhatsApp group

We established a new communication channel using WhatsApp for all parents from a refugee background across KLS programmes. We have called  it ‘Parent News’ WhatsApp group. This was promoted to parents accessing our ESOL (English) classes, as well as our Love to Learn parents. It currently has 113 participants and we add parents to it all the time. We’ve received good feedback.


We have had some staff disruption during the year. In August’21 the member of staff who we recruited in May to organise the workshops left us suddenly due to family issues. She was replaced in January’22. This had some impact on parent engagement efforts and follow up, but we continued to deliver the workshops effectively with good attendance. Some parents helped to promote the workshops to others, and some also willingly stepped in to assist with interpretation, as above.








What our parents said about the workshops – 1

A. attended our workshop in January 2022 (Early Help and Family Support). She contacted us after this to say how helpful she found it and to ask for advice about her son who is struggling at secondary school. She has mainly wanted to talk and be reassured, and we have supported her by talking through a meeting she had at the school at which the school said they have no concerns. We are following up with the school SENCO to request more support. We are delighted to hear that she has now referred herself to the Early Help team.

A. says “I was invited to a parent workshop by a friend, a parent from my daughter’s school, because she knew how much I was struggling emotionally to deal with the demands of my son’s mental health and wanted to help me. It was the first time I had participated in a Love to Learn workshop. 

The information was beneficial to me because of the circumstances of my life at the time. My child needs assistance and support, which is what the lady at the workshop was talking about. His school is not very supportive and CAMHS are reluctant to assist my son. My family has benefited from the parent workshop because I have met Y from Love to Learn who is supporting me with my son’s school situation. It has also has brought early help and family support into our home.

The parent workshop provided information on early intervention services and family support. Because of that, I feel more confident searching for the help I need for my family through them.”

Workshop attendance

  • 78 different parents attended one or more workshop during the year.
  • A core group of 7 parents attended at least half of the workshops (6+ workshops).
  • 16 parents attended more than 3 workshops.

All workshops, except one (our Listening Skills and Parent Celebration) were attended by 10+ parents. The majority had more than 12 participants. Our Parenting Teenagers workshop was attended by 17 and our NHS Covid Q+A workshop and recent Early Help and Family Support workshops were attended by 21 and 25 parents respectively.

One to One Support

  • 26 parents accessed additional support from our Love to Learn education team, directly arising from contact through the workshops.

We are aware that some parents followed up directly with some of the support organisations that were recommended in the workshops (for example, the Money team and Energy Advice team), as well as our own casework staff.

Support has ranged from one-off requests by parents. For example, specific advice about parenting issues after the Parenting Teenagers workshop, and support to access the Talk Wandsworth talking therapy service. To requests which have become ongoing education advice, such as support with relation to children with SEND and behaviour issues. Nine of these requests were from parents who had not previously accessed Love to Learn education support.

 Outcomes and impacts

  • Feedback from parents about the workshops showed positive outcomes

We sought individual feedback for 10 out of our 12 workshops and felt we got meaningful feedback from 8: of these all parents reported significant and sometimes substantial increases in knowledge, confidence, and awareness of where to get more help.


Our feedback questions sought to measure:

  • increased knowledge about the topic
  • confidence about the topic
  • increased understanding of where to get more information and help if needed.

Several methods were tried to get feedback online without success (use of hand raising, chat box, follow up questionnaires delivered by Zoom). We overestimated the IT expertise of our parents. We got anonymous paper feedback from our 4 face to face workshops and requested feedback by phone for 4 online workshops.








What our parents said about the workshops – 2

J has attended many of the workshops and has encouraged others to attend. We asked her to summarise how she found them. She said: “It is about parents getting the information and empowering them in terms of confidence and self-esteem. It has given parents a place to go and a friendly face. If you need anything you can also get this through Love to Learn and KLS. 

The workshops helped me with practical things, for example the workshop on Managing Energy Bills. Since then I have been trying to change my behaviour about electricity – switching things off to save money. The Early Help workshop was good to help you understand who to contact. 

It all makes you feel connected – sharing information you have and concerns you have, helping each other and getting to know each other. I try my best to also pass on the information from you – send it to others I know and try to explain to them anything else they need. 

It is not easy, your mental health – the workshops have helped me with managing my day and getting out and meeting people.”

Assessment of mental health impacts

Our Baseline Assessment questions were based on questions used in the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale.

We completed a baseline assessment with a group of parents, judged to be a representative sample of the people we work with, across KLS’ Love to Learn and ESOL (English) teams. These were completed during ESOL classes and by phone.

We revisited these questions in June with parents who had attended 2+ workshops and revisited them again in February with 15 parents who had attended repeat workshops.

We are pleased that the results of our analysis have been some significant improvements in parent well-being and knowledge of services related to our aims for the project.

We found:

Improved mental health and wellbeing

  • There has been a 26% decrease in the number of parents saying they very often feel they are having to manage on their own.
  • There has been a 21% increase in parents saying they often felt cheerful, with none of the parents now saying they never feel cheerful (5% said this before)
  • The percentage of parents saying they often felt relaxed increased by 10%, and none said they never felt relaxed (5% reduction)
  • The percentage of parents saying they more often than not felt confident increased by 15%, and there was a reduction of 16% in those saying they never felt confident.

Increased ability to effectively manage their own and their family issues

  • There has been a 30% increase in those saying they felt that more often than not they dealt with their issues well.
  • And a decrease of 5% in those saying they felt that they did not do at all well.

Increased confidence by parents to seek support from other services

  • There has been a 26% increase in parents saying they felt more often than not able to ask for help from different services. None said they never felt able to ask for help (11% reduction).
  • There was a 9% increase in the number of parents saying they had a lot of knowledge of services.

These results reinforce the improvements we saw in our follow up group in June, with a bigger improvement in confidence in asking for help from other services (up from 12% then to 26% now) and roughly similar improvements in feelings of having to manage on their own and in knowledge of services. This matches our workshop feedback as well as more anecdotal feedback.

We have also been pleased by the engagement in the evaluation process by our parents – we know that many can be reticent to say they are not coping in any respect.

Feedback from our Parents

Parents told us the following about the workshops:

“KLS and Love to Learn are like my home, I always know I will learn new information from the workshops”

“The workshops are very useful; I find myself learning new information even if had some knowledge before, it makes me more confident to look for further information”

“Attending the workshops gives me the sense that I have a support system” 

“The workshops are helpful. I took many ideas about different things specially the education options for my children”

“Attending workshops with L2L is always helpful, I learn more – especially with the Somali interpreter”

“The workshops have helped me to build up my confidence when it comes how to run my life.”

“I like attending the Love to Learn workshops because I learn new things and I get to meet new people in area”

“I can’t put into words how much the workshop has helped me with my family”

“I loved those sessions when we talked about how to manage your time and your kids”

“ Every workshop I attended I have gained knowledge”

“The parent workshops are very important for the Somali Community”

“I liked that X was willing to support us even after the workshop, and I have already been implementing her advice”

“I understand what family support means now”

“I feel more confident to understand how to get more help if I need it”

 Additional Impacts

This was another Covid year with huge impacts on parent and child/young person mental health. We enabled parents to feel more connected with us and each other than was otherwise possible for big stretches of the year.

We have seen the information spread out wider into the community from parents who come, for example through new referrals to the service and requests to be added to the Parent News WhatsApp Group.

Our Love to Learn education team has developed stronger relationships with parents through their attendance and getting to know them. This is especially true of those who seem less inclined to seek support from us and some of whom have now requested additional support.

We have enjoyed watching parents become more confident with online meetings due to the regular workshops. We have seen how this has made it easier and less stressful for them to navigate professional/school meetings which are still regularly happening online.

We have developed closer relationships with key service providers in the borough, e.g. SEND and Early Help and Family Support Managers, NHS managers. Our next workshop in March’22 is already planned with the CAMHS teams.

Our Parent News WhatsApp group is now used to provide information routinely to a wider group of parents than were able to make it to the workshops. For example, leaflets from providers, events for families by other voluntary sector groups, a “Parenting and Family Support – Where to get help” guide (compiled by our Love to Learn team), information about new Love to Learn and ESOL activities.

The project has given more equal access to parents from across our ESOL and Love to Learn teams to our parenting support work and has strengthened joint work across the teams.

Quite a few children had enjoyable times with KLS’s great creche team!!

What our parents said about the workshops – 3

“The workshops are excellent since they allow us to communicate with others who are in a similar situation to ourselves, which is hugely beneficial. In addition, we may get extra information about the issues that we deal with daily, such as children’s challenges at school or the importance of energy efficiency and mental health well-being in our daily lives.

I enjoy getting to know new people who are a part of the same community as me, and it’s an absolute pleasure. The workshops are the only time we have to discuss and exchange ideas with one another. Discussing my concerns and fears with other parents who has an immigrant background is something I like doing.

It has been my pleasure to share my expertise in saving energy with my family and friends. My family and friends have expressed their gratitude for the information I have passed on to them, and I am also grateful to the Love to Learn team.”

Lessons Learned

We overestimated the number of parents who would attend our workshops during this Covid pandemic and those who would attend repeat workshops. Parents lives are busy and feelings of engagement / attachment to the group may have been lower due to the sessions being only online to start with (due to the Covid restrictions).

Online and face to face workshops seem to cater for slightly different audiences. Though there is some overlap. In the future some parents will miss out if we move to only one format for delivery.

Language needs are harder to support online. It is impossible to do upfront and whisper translation without more sophisticated use of Zoom. Although this could be done using language channels but it would require significant staff support and training.

Most workshops had 80-90% attendance by Somali parents. There is still outreach and engagement work to be done. Due to a staff change during the year we were not able to do the concerted outreach to other communities (especially Eritrean/Ethiopian) that we had planned.

It was time consuming and a bit laborious on both sides having to phone people for feedback on the online workshops. Our paper feedback forms for the face-to-face workshops could also have been simplified further due to language and literacy issues. We need to do further research on simple online feedback methods.

Parents were keen to meet key Wandsworth Council and NHS professionals for information and to ask questions.

We are grateful for parent engagement with our workshop feedback and our assessment processes. We also feel the questions we used from the Warwick-Edinburgh wellbeing scale were reasonably effective in  assessing outcomes related to our client group’s mental health, ability to manage their own and their family issues, and confidence to seek support from other services.


We are going to continue organising these parent workshops in the year ahead, as parents value them and have asked us to.

If you would like to discuss any of this work in more detail then please contact Paula Robertson, Head of Love to Learn education team on [email protected]

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