Mid Sussex charity wants to support families - 'We try to help people help themselves'

A charity in Mid Sussex is aiming to ‘build confidence and create a future’ for its members.

Parents from Hope's Sparkle group
Parents from Hope's Sparkle group

Formed in 2013, Hope works to encourage and support family life and to reduce stress and isolation in families.

There are three parts to the work the charity does - build community, have fun, and talk and support - with groups ranging from parent groups Sparkle and Space for Dads to sensory play sessions and talk support groups.

Naomi McBain, director of the charity, said: “The group photo is one of Hope's sparkle groups.

Naomi McBain, founder of Hope

“These groups build supportive connections to support mum's of any age.

“Most of the ladies find large groups to difficult to go to. Often they need encouragement to step out of dealing with the pressures of life and give themselves some time.”

She tries to make sure the groups are a ‘laid-back affair’, and encourages newcomers, even if they’re nervous.

Mrs McBain, who has lived in Hurstpierpoint for 23 years and used to teach at St Lawrence CofE Primary School, said: “Sparkle is our most impacting group for mums who are isolated or find it hard to connect into communities for a variety of reasons, like PTSD, those who are new to the area, suffering from postnatal depression or even just shyness.

“We’re working on how to do something similar for dads too, and are talking to some dads to work out the best way to provide support and entertainment to men in their family responsibilities for the benefit of their family lives.”

The charity launched in Hurstpierpoint, but has projects in Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and Lewes, and is always looking for people to take the parts of the project that they think will benefit their own communities.

Mrs McBain said: “I've seen it have an impact in my community.

“I want to help others establish this in their area and learn how they can apply it to their community depending on the area’s needs.

"We look to equip and encourage people in their communities to support families.

"Whether it's running one of the projects in our programme of support or to encourage and back up through conversations, and being a place of support for an individual who is walking alongside a family in their neighbourhood or own family.

"We love to provide encouragement and ideas to ensure people don't burn out or feel too overwhelmed by the pressure that can come with long term community support."

Other groups include sensory play activities which are taken into toddler groups, community cafés and churches who want to reach out into the community, providing a relaxed place for families to play and meet a wider community.

Hope also run talk and support groups like guided parenting discussions, which can be ongoing or a one-off talk, to help with parental issues, elderly parent problems, issues with children’s behaviour, and mental health.

Mrs McBain said: “We’re not professionals, but try to help as a layperson in the community.

“It doesn’t mean the problems will go away, it just means the community can then reach out to support someone.

“We try to help people help themselves, and we try to have conversations that aren't just about their issues, and take people out for walks or to garden centres.

“People say it’s non-judgemental, they can be themselves, and say anything that’s on their mind, and they make friends and connections in the community.

"We never timeframe our involvement because we recognise for some it takes a while to connect or they can forget to come to events but our network of care around that is we follow up and check on people.

Mrs McBain encourages people to get in touch if they feel the groups would help, and can arrange for people to meet them beforehand if they feel it would help.

She said: "We're friendly and non judgemental and accept where people are at, and that they want to improve on their lives."

To find out more about Hope, click here.