Mothers from the most deprived areas of Luton receive parenting support

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Photograph: Tony Henderson, Provincial Grand Master Bedfordshire Freemasons, chats to mothers of young children using the Stepping Stones facilities.

120 mothers in Luton living in isolation and poverty, will be given help with parenting skills, thanks to a grant of £49,000 from Bedfordshire Freemasons to the Stepping Stones charity.

The aim of the Stepping Stones programme is to help these mothers break a continuing cycle of poverty and domestic abuse for some of the most disadvantaged children in Luton, to give them the best possible start on life.

Stepping Stones is a local women’s charity that supports around 500 women a year from Luton and Central Bedfordshire to live safely and make positive life choices.  

Delivered by a small team of experienced and dedicated practitioners, Stepping Stones provides both one-to-one and group programmes to help women better understand domestic abuse and its impacts; deal with their trauma from past abuse and manage their anger in order to make positive life changes. With its on-site nursery, it also provides free childcare as well as clothing and food donations.  

The programme will help Stepping Stones deliver a comprehensive programme of parenting support focused on women who are suffering from real hardship and isolation.  The programme will include delivery of a group parenting programme, observations and joint working to improve parenting styles from trained childcare professionals in weekly Stay and Play sessions; emotional and practical support; cooking healthily on a low income; and physical activity sessions for both mum and child. 

Focusing firmly on the development of stronger relationships between mother and child; participants will understand more about child development, the impact of domestic abuse, be given advice on how to interact and communicate, play, implement boundaries and lead healthy lifestyles.   

There were 14,475 domestic abuse-related incidents across Bedfordshire in the year to March 2020 and nationally, one in five children are exposed to domestic abuse either directly or as a witness.

The grant from Bedfordshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Chief Executive, Nicky Panton said: “We’re very grateful to Bedfordshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us to develop our work with women and their young children in Luton to break the cycle of poverty and abuse and lay the foundations for a better long-term future.”

Tony Henderson from Bedfordshire Freemasons, said: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support Stepping Stones with their hugely important work with some of the most vulnerable women and children in our community.

“Stepping Stones have a dedicated team doing fantastic work, but demand has soared since the start of the pandemic and Freemasons are proud to be helping them with this vital project.”