Gingerbread local groups connect single parents and their children around the country. Sherisha, who runs her local group in Worcestershire, explains why it’s made such a difference to her and her daughter.
Sherisha first got in touch with Gingerbread when she became a single parent 12 years ago. ‘I signed up to the newsletter when my daughter was a baby,’ she says. ‘In terms of support services and signposting and finances, it was really helpful to me when I was starting out.’
4 years ago, a move to Worcestershire prompted Sherisha to take the next step and get more involved with Gingerbread. ‘There was no support group for single parents so I got thinking I might as well set up my own group!’
Sherisha and her group regularly get together for coffee mornings and picnics, as well as organising children’s activities like painting parties or cinema visits. The group has grown to over 200 members, whose children range from pre-schoolers to 18 year olds.
‘We’re all there to support each other’
‘We’ve got new single parents and what I call our expert parents, who can offer support and advice to new members,’ says Sherisha. ‘It’s like a little village, I’ve got people I can just ring up and ask if they’re free to meet up, or if they can help.’
Joining a Gingerbread group hasn’t just made a difference to Sherisha – it’s benefited her daughter too.
‘My daughter’s got a whole little friendship group out of Gingerbread. Being around other children that don’t necessarily live with a mum and dad really helps them, they can confide in each other and share that space with each other. It’s about normalizing it, feeling that there’s other people in the same situation.’
We’ve all got families, but our families look different to other people’s families, and that’s ok.
Sherisha knows that support is available from Gingerbread too:
‘When I first took on running my local group, I had loads of support from Gingerbread. They provided training in areas such as safeguarding, and advertising materials to help promote the group to new members. We have a monthly check-in to make sure the group is running smoothly and I can feed back anything I need to.’
Find out more about volunteering with Gingerbread