Mytime Active and BCFF join forces to support young mums

Mytime Active is working in partnership with Bromley Children and Families Voluntary Sector Forum (BCFF) to deliver twice-weekly free swimming lessons for young mums aged 15 - 24 and their babies.

In a recent survey, 90% of participants that responded reported an improvement in how satisfied they are with their life since joining the group, with 90% also saying they have made friends at the Swim, Splash and Support classes.

Originally financed by Sport England’s 'This Girl Can’ campaign, the programme has received support from Mytime Active since September 2022, with the charitable leisure trust donating the pool time and support staff such as lifeguards at The Pavilion in Bromley, with BCFF securing funding to provide the qualified swimming instructors until September 2024.

Samantha Britnell, CEO, Bromley Children and Families Voluntary Sector Forum (BCFF) says: “The Swim, Splash and Support group really has made a positive impact on these young families. The young women, who are aged between 15-24 with babies aged under three years old, may have quite complex histories and sometimes might be quite vulnerable. The group provides these young parents with a secure environment to develop both their own and their babies’ skills, including learning to swim and water safety, whilst additionally having the opportunity to meet other young parents for peer to peer support.”

The initiative is promoted through Bromley's Family Nurse Partnership, where health and social care professionals will make referrals for young women to join the programme. The scheme is currently at capacity with 30 young women registered and an average of 12 young mums attending each of the two weekly sessions. BCFF is looking for further funding and/or sponsorship to help continue this programme into 2025, with the aim of expanding it year on year.

Anna* gave birth when she was 18 years old and joined the classes when Joe*, who is now 19 months old, was eight months old. She says: “I was very nervous about

attending. I was already suffering from post-partum anxiety and was unsure whether we would enjoy the lessons. I was panicked that Joe would drown and, having just had a baby, was very body conscious.

“Despite my fears, I decided to try one of the lessons as I realised Joe needed to socialise with other babies. I felt very overwhelmed when I arrived, however the staff were amazing and reassured me. Joe enjoyed the first session so much that it motivated me to attend future sessions.”

“Joe and I are benefiting from the group in many ways. I like the routine of knowing we have swimming on Tuesdays. My confidence in the water with Joe has increased, thanks to a fantastic swimming teacher, who provides lots of activities like blowing bubbles to teach the baby to hold their breath and holding on to the side to assist when they are older and ready to climb out of the pool.

“I have also benefitted from talking to other mums who attend the session, and like the fact we are all young mums compared to other playgroups in the area, where the parents tend to be a lot older than me, making it difficult for me to relate to them. I also enjoy talking about Joe to staff from the Children and Families Voluntary Sector Forum and Mytime Active, who provide reassurance about the swim sessions and share information.”

As a result of the swimming lessons, Anna and Joe have now made new friends and often spend time in Bromley after the swimming sessions with one of the other mums and their baby.

Samantha Britnell continues: “It’s great to help the young women in their own development and to see them grow in confidence, make friends and arrange meet ups outside of the swimming class.

“The team from Bromley Children and Families Forum are on hand to support the young women, including helping them to start thinking about their future, and to consider work/training opportunities once their child starts attending pre-school. It allows us to have a weekly ‘check in’ with the young women in an informal setting, and is often the start of a 1:2:1 mentoring relationship with us and our partnered charities.”

Debra Weekes, Partnerships Manager, Mytime Active says: “Working collaboratively with BCFF means we can co-deliver and co-produce this impactful programme, allowing

young mums the opportunity to build relationships, learn lifesaving skills, create bonding experiences with their baby and build social interaction with their little ones in a safe space. Becoming a parent can be a lonely experience at any time, and we are proud of the positive impact this initiative has had on these young parents and their babies.

“We are passionate about giving everyone the opportunity for the best start in life, and we are keen to widen our partnership with BCFF in order to further support families, young people and local community projects across the the borough.”

*names changed to protect privacy

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