How parenting classes helped two Newham families

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:03 21 April 2017

Mum Yvette Walker is a faciliator for a Headstart parenting course in Newham. Pictured with her son Amani

Mum Yvette Walker is a faciliator for a Headstart parenting course in Newham. Pictured with her son Amani


Two parents who benefited from a parenting support initiative which they now help to run are encouraging others to sign up this spring.

Father-of-four David Beresford-Hill says the sessions are relaxed and informalFather-of-four David Beresford-Hill says the sessions are relaxed and informal

Yvette Walker and David Beresford-Hill are both facilitators of parental classes for Headstart, a £10 million Newham-Council led project supporting children aged between 10 and 16 with their mental wellbeing.

The nine-week parenting courses run at schools and community centres across Newham, are already one successful aspect of the project and provide a “relaxed and informal” group setting for parents to help and learn from one another.

Father-of-four David says he learnt a huge amount about communication at each of the two-hour sessions involving group discussions, role playing and listening.

“I was a very confident father,” the 35-year-old Custom House resident said. “I used to think my daddy skills were absolutely top.

“But I haven’t got these young boys anymore, I have got big teenagers.”

The dad to Ellis, 14, Aaron, 11, Daenerys, 4, and Amily, 1, says the courses are a good support for helping parents with their children’s “transition from primary to secondary school”.

He cites his own experience with his son, Ellis, who has autism and was finding it hard communicating with others online while on his playstation.

“Sometimes other children can be unwelcoming. He was finding it difficult to engage.”

While in the past, David’s reaction might have been to treat his son with a new game and “brush things under the carpet”, he learned how talking through problems can help.

“I now feel I can engage with my boys,” he said. “Now I am listening, I am really trying to understand their feelings.”

As a result, he says his children are “much more forthcoming”, adding that parents don’t need to necessarily have all the answers.

He added: “What we really enjoy is watching parents realise that they are good parents and have all the skills and tools all along.”

Single mum Yvette Walker, who has a 10-year-son Amari, says the first few session often focus on how parents can look after themselves and be more relaxed.

“We spent a lot of time thinking about when we were a child and how that affects us now,” the North Woolwich resident said.

“If we realise we do not have have to be perfect, we tend not to expect our children to be perfect as well.”

Advice the 35-year-old says was helpful was encouraging other parents to be more patient and to be “prescriptive” in their praise.

“You have to be more specific so saying ‘Thank you for taking out your plate’ – and that helps with their motivation.”

Common problems that tend to crop up can be mobile phone usage, school work and social media but the pair say issues do vary and specialist advice is on hand for people that might need more.

“It’s a great opportunity to speak with other parents, support your child and improve your communication,” said Yvette.

Courses run throughout the borough.

- From April 25: Tues 6.30-8.30 pm at The Froud Centre, Manor Park. This course is open to all parents of nine to 16-year-olds.

- From April 27: Thurs 9.45am-11.45am at The Hub, Canning Town (with creche provision)

- From May 2: Tues 10am-12pm at St John’s Church, Stratford (for foster carers only) and Tues 6.30pm-8.30pm at the Froud Centre, Manor Park.

Contact Penny Phillips, parent and creative activities manager on 0203 373 4252 or email

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