Two-year-old Benjamin shrieks with delight while he plays with gorillas stomping in cornflakes during a Messy Monday session at GL11. “Benjamin and I have been coming to Messy Monday since he was nine months old”, comments his Mum Kelly, “he loves coming here, he gets to interact with other children and has freedom to explore all types of play!”
Messy Monday is just one of the family sessions that GL11 delivers during the week, aimed at parents and carers with children under the age of 5. Emma Lovegrove-Smith, Family Support Worker at GL11, explains “Messy Monday is an opportunity for children and their parents or carers to explore with their senses and to experiment with textures, materials and food. This encourages a child’s positive attitude to new experiences whilst developing their imagination, independence and co-ordination. Messy play fosters children’s natural curiosities and it’s amazing to see their reactions when playing with everyday items which are usually out of bounds when at home!”
Kelly has 2 children, Benjamin and 11-year-old Keira, with her partner Mike. “I had Keira when I was 21. “I was the first among my friends to have a baby, because of this I felt quite alone and overwhelmed by the whole parent thing. In 2012 when Keira was 4 years old, I took over the administration of the Parents of Cam and Dursley Facebook page as I felt it was such an important way for local parents to share information about what is going on in the area but to also connect with each other. GL11 then became a member in 2017 and this is how I first heard of Messy Monday.
Benjamin loves Messy Monday as much as I do! Staff are incredibly friendly and helpful, they interact with the children and join in the fun, even if it means they end up getting messy!” continues Kelly “Because of the age gap between my 2 children when I had Benjamin, I found myself in the same situation as when I had Keira, I felt isolated and lacked confidence. Coming to Messy Monday has not only enabled Benjamin to grow and explore play in a safe environment but it has also made me feel part of the local community, I now chat to other parents and once the weather improves, we are hoping to meet up outside GL11”.
Each year in the month of November, during our Listening Fortnight, we ask our service users to complete a questionnaire, to help us understand who our users are, what they engage in, how the Hub has supported them and what else they would like us to provide.
Our most recent Listening Fortnight analysis tells us 82.5% of service users report they feel part of the community.