Posted: Tue 26th Apr 2022

Impact of the pandemic on young children in Flintshire explored in student project

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 26th, 2022

How parents with young children coped during lockdown has been the focus of a project by a student at the University of Chester.

Georgia Kitchen, 20, who is studying for a BA Childhood Studies was particularly interested in the challenges faced by parents and how they gained support during this challenging period.

To explore this for her dissertation, Georgia was connected with the Early Years and Family Support Team at Flintshire County Council to develop and implement creative/participatory approaches to capture parents’ lived experiences.

Georgia and the team worked together to develop a new and creative way of gathering research, a storyboard where parents would be asked to place images with a short caption in order of priority for them since COVID-19.

The team then supported Georgia to promote questionnaires on social media and to enable her to conduct the research gathering with parents using the storyboards.

Some of Georgia’s innovative ideas included using social media platforms such as Instagram to develop interactive data collection tools that the Family Support Team can incorporate into the Family Information Services website.

This contemporary tool is likely to be more familiar and accessible to parents than some of the traditional methods and is now being used more frequently by the Family Support team as a result of the positive, detailed feedback received by parents.

Georgia, from Manchester, said: “When I spoke with the Early Years and Family Information team I became quickly aware of how passionate they are about the work they do and the difference that they hope it will make within the local community.”

“I also have learned how to work professionally in an industry in which I am valued for the work I am doing and have throughout my degree and I have loved the support and encouragement they have given me”

“I have been very lucky to have the support of Paula who has encouraged me towards opportunities I hadn’t even considered, and as a result I am now in contact with amazing professionals across the UK that have not only added valuable insights and new research methods for my dissertation, but have given me great career advice and suggestions that I would have never considered before.”

“My plans and hopes for the future are to engage in more research studies that hopefully will impact how young people in the UK are being educated, looking at the national curriculum, equal opportunities for all and how as early years practitioners we can assess areas for development.”

“I have also been looking at careers within family support services and social services and I am keen to apply myself to a long -term community in which I can hopefully make a difference.”

Paula said: “The Early Years and Family Support Team has been impressed with Georgia’s enthusiasm and innovative ideas and it is envisaged that her findings will contribute to the work that is being undertaken by the local authority to develop services that are more informed by the direct voices of parents in the area. I am incredibly proud of her.”

Jeanette Bailie, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for BA Childhood Studies, said: “Such innovative research being conducted by our ECS students indicates the positive impacts that the Early Childhood Studies degree has upon fostering links between the University and the local community.”

“This demonstrates the ways in which the University’s Citizen Student Strategy is embedded within this programme, and the variety of local authority employment roles that ECS graduates may progress to.”

Flintshire’s Chief Officer for Social Services, Neil Ayling, said: “Georgia’s research for her dissertation – exploring the challenges faced by parents and how they gained support during lockdown – couldn’t have come at a better time for our service.”

“She has worked exceptionally well with Jen Brierley, Parenting Programmes Coordinator, bringing innovation to the parent consultation work taking place and her enthusiasm and great ideas have been brought significant lasting benefits.”

“The team said that it was a pleasure to work with Georgia on this project, which has tied in really well with the parent consultation work that we are doing in Early Years and Family Support.”

”Her enthusiasm is inspiring and she has brought fresh ideas to the service which we have used and will incorporate into our consultation work going forward, particularly around the creative use of social media.”

“Some of the responses from parents have been insightful and very useful. It has been a pleasure to be able to provide Georgia with the opportunity to put her knowledge and ideas into practice and we wish her every success for the future.”

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