Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 14.22.17YOUNG Sunderland mums have penned a poem that they hope will break down the barriers that prevent other parents from using the city’s children’s centres.

Two city mums – Dominique Sohar and Bobbie Jo Duggan, both 19 – who attend Sunderland Children, North Centre, decided to put pen to paper, after realising that they had missed out on months of free support due to fear of what the centre would be like.

The duo, who met and made friends at a young parents group at Maplewood Children’s Centre – part of Sunderland Children North, one of five main hubs across the city – believe that more mums, dads and carers should make use of Sunderland Children, where they have been able to meet new people and take home tips and techniques that will help them with parenting.

Dominique, who comes to the centre with 18 month-old Rome, said: “It seems strange to me now, but I was really worried before I started coming to Sunderland Children sessions.

“I didn’t know what to expect or who would be there.  But, as soon as I went along, I saw that the other mams were just like me.  And the staff are lovely too.  Rome has come on so much since we started coming to the centre and I feel like I have picked up a lot of good advice as well as making friends.”

She added: “The idea of the poem is just to tell other parents that they shouldn’t worry.  They should come and see for themselves.”

The poem, which the mums are now sharing through social media, was written at one of the sessions, while their little ones enjoyed a Stay and Play group.

Bobbie Jo, who attends with two-year-old son Joseph, said: “We love coming to the centres.  Joseph and Rome play together, and Dominique and I get support with parenting and even training and employability assistance.”

Councillor Pat Smith, portfolio holder for Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The poem really does bring to life the doubts that many parents have about coming and being part of the Sunderland Children community.

“However, the reality when they come here is that they join a friendly, supportive group of parents and carers – just like them – who are empowered to be the best they can be.  And whose little ones are given support to help them develop at pace.”

She added: “We really do hope that the poem the ladies have written helps to send a message to other mums, dads, grandparents and carers to give Sunderland Children a go.  I am sure they will be as pleasantly surprised as Dominique and Bobbie Jo were.”

Sunderland Children has five centres, that are free to access and provide sessions and groups that aim to help children aged five an under develop the skills they need for life, as well as supporting parents and carers.

To find out more about Sunderland Children, visit www.sunderlandchildrenscentres.co.uk, find the Sunderland Children page on Facebook or call 0191 520 5553.