Parenting in a time of Covid and lockdowns – update

With the support of Mo Mark Mental Health Community Fund we’re currently running a programme of parent workshops and one-to-one support for refugee parents, with the aims of:

  1. Improving mental health and wellbeing for 100 refugee parents in Battersea.
  2. Increasing their ability to effectively manage their own and their family issues.
  3. Increasing parents confidence to seek support from other services if needed e.g., schools, Jobcentres, GPs, mental health services.

What follows is a short update about what we’ve been up to over the last 5 months:

Staff and Comms

We have a new member of staff, Asia Mohammed, who started on 18th May 2021. She is responsible for delivering our parent workshops. She is settling well into KLS’ Love to Learn education team. She is also a Bi-lingual Education Caseworker, bringing Tigrinya, Amharic and Arabic language support back into our frontline work. She met parents at our last workshop on 7th June and has organised our workshop on 2nd July.

We are providing Somali interpreting at all the workshops through another staff member, to meet the needs of the Somali parents who are our biggest users. Asia is now able to contribute the other languages as necessary, and is working on increasing engagement with the workshops by Tigrinya and Arabic speakers.

We have streamlined communication about the workshops across KLS, through our new Love to Learn Parent News. This is a Whatsapp group that all parents/carers from Love to Learn and ESOL (English) classes have been invited to join (includes 120 parents at present).


i) 4 workshops delivered

We have delivered the following parent workshops:

  • 26th February: Covid Vaccine, Information and Q&A (with NHS Public Health)
  • 5th March: GCSEs, A-Levels, BTECs – Support your Child (Assessment/Exams information, with Francis Holland School)
  • 5th May: Coping with Stress, and Supporting your Family (with NHS Talk Wandsworth)
  • 11th June: Post 16 Education options (with Love to Learn volunteer and UCAS Lead at a Harris Academy)
  • [2nd July: Living with Diabetes (with NHS Talk Wandsworth)]

We have delivered 4 workshops from February to June. We have another workshop organised for 2nd July. We hope to deliver one more before the end of the summer term.

So far, our workshops have all been online because of the Covid restrictions. This was essential before children went back to school on 8th March, and remained necessary due to further delays in easing lockdown.

Online workshops are seen as less engaging, and therefore are less attractive in that sense to parents. We are aware of parents who do not attend because they find managing the technology difficult, especially when there are language barriers too. A few find them more convenient – they take up less time and there’s no travelling involved. We will not be offering workshops face-to-face before the summer holidays, but hope we will be able to start these in September.

There have been 2 workshops in this period with an education focus, in response to demand. The ‘exams’ workshop was due to the need for information in a moving situation. The ‘Post 16’ workshop was to enable parents to understand decisions their young people are currently having to make.

Our ‘Coping with Stress’ workshop was the least well attended (6 parents), but was well received. It was during Ramadan which had some impact on attendance, even though we thought we timed it carefully. Our next workshop on 2nd July is in response to requests about the important issue of Diabetes in our communities.


We are learning how to measure the usefulness of individual workshops. We have sought specific feedback from parents at the last 2 workshops. On 5th May we asked parents to put answers to questions in the Zoom “chat” box. All who were able to manage this [5 parents] scored 3 (out of 1-3) on their increased understanding about Coping with Stress, and nearly all scored 3 with relation to the usefulness of the workshop. For our last workshop, Post-16 Education Options, we spoke to parents by phone after the workshop – this gave us more time to explore questions, but was time-consuming and all parents could not be reached. There were drawbacks to both methods and we are currently reviewing this.

For the last workshop in June, we asked about prior knowledge of the subject, confidence in using this knowledge and understanding of where to get more help. We had 11 responses.

  • Prior to the workshop, 100% of participants said they had little or no knowledge of the topic and 64% said they didn’t know where to access relevant information and that they were not at all confident navigating relevant information.
  • Following the workshop, 73% of participants said they had gained knowledge of the topic and 64% said they now knew where to access further information. 82% of participants said they were very confident with the topic compared to 0% prior to the workshop.

ii) At least 12 parents attended at least 3 out of 4 workshops

The 4 workshops were attended by a total of 28 different parents, and both the education ones by some young people too.

Of these 9 parents attended more than one workshop, 1 parent attended 3 workshops, and 1 attended 4.

The Education workshops in this period were only relevant to parents with children in years 10, 11 upwards. This impacted repeat attendance by some parents.

iii) At least 10 parents have received one-to-one advice and support

We did not promote the one-to-one support until our May workshop, due to staff capacity in the team. Since then, we have supported 6 parents with issues arising from the workshops.

These ranged from specific help with finding work experience for a young person in the summer holidays (ongoing), to support around bereavement and where to get specialist help, and help to engage with counselling provision.

iv) Assessment of Mental Health Impacts

Our Baseline Assessment questions are attached. These are 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 have now revisited these questions with parents who had attended 2 or more workshops (of these 4 workshops and other Love to Learn workshops this year).

None of our follow up group scored themselves in the lowest category for any question, unlike in our baseline group. The most significant increases in confidence, knowledge, connectedness etc were in the % of participants who felt able to ask for help from different services (12% increase) and the % who felt they had some knowledge of services available (14% increase). There was a 25% decrease in the number of participants saying they very often had to manage on their own. There were smaller increases in the % of participants saying they felt they dealt with their family issues well, felt confident more often than not.

The bigger increases are in the areas we most expected to impact. We are pleased by the feedback we hear from parents supported by this evidence of improvement in wellbeing, confidence and knowledge. We are hoping this will increase with the delivery of further workshops.

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

We are planning to revisit this evaluation by 1st October (after the delivery of the next 4 workshops), as well as before our final report.


Some quotes from parents about the workshops so far:

“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


If you’d like to find out more about our Love to Learn team’s parent support then please contact Elaine at [email protected]

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