Involving single parents in project delivery and design

7 July 2017

Single parents are twice as likely to feel stigmatised, isolated and live in poverty. This puts them at greater risk of developing mental health problems.

Creating Connections has supported over 200 single parents through self-management courses and peer support groups in Cardiff and Newport so that they don’t have to manage alone.

"Co-production is not just a word, it’s not just a concept, it is a meeting of minds coming together to find a shared solution. In practice it involves people who use services being consulted, included and working together from the start to the end of any project that affects them."

Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) (2011).

Single parents were involved in the design and delivery of Creating Connections at every stage. We at the Mental Health Foundation believe that this has been a key factor in the success of the project, not just by engaging single parents to take part in activities themselves, but also by empowering single parents to take the aims of self-management forward into the way they live their lives.

Some examples of co-production with single parents have been:

  • all the facilitators that delivered the self-management courses were or have been single parents
  • 40 single parents were involved in the design of the programme activities, course structure and content. They helped design a programme workbook that would also function as a personal journal that could be kept as a resource in their day to day lives
  • single parents volunteered as peer group leaders, event organisers and gave talks and presentations to promote the project. Their activities and events brought benefit to over 1500 single parents and their children in Cardiff and Newport
  • a group of single parents co-produced a ‘Single Parents Survival Guide’ that used their own stories to give helpful strategies and information that help meet the challenges of single parenthood, maintain good mental health and build towards a positive future.

Ensuring that single parents are fully involved in Creating Connections from initial project concept to evaluation of its achievements has meant that the project has remained engaging and dynamic. It has promoted innovation and creativity. Single parents are experts in their own experience so know well what the issues and challenges are for others. 

Involvement has been empowering and has built confidence and self esteem. Many of the single parents involved in Creating Connections have gone on to achieve their personal goals such as setting up their own business, going to university, learning to drive, improving their physical health, to name just a few. 

"I enjoyed the fact that some of the other people in the group had come through this and were OK. When I first came to the group I had felt that nothing was ever going to be OK again, but to see other people who had managed made me feel like ‘I can do this too'."

Single parent on Creating Connections project

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