About parent groups
There are lots of different types of parent groups, including:
- Plunket in the Neighbourhood (PIN) groups – like the ones Sian helps run
- whānau groups
- young mums’ groups
- dads' groups
- coffee groups
- walking groups
- dance and movement – and more.
Most of these groups are run by parent volunteers, with the help of Plunket community staff.
When Sian moved to Wellington 15 years ago from the UK, she had a one-year-old and very little in the way of a support network. All her friends and family were back home in England.
But then she joined the Strathmore, Seatoun and Bays playgroup (which still runs today) – and that changed everything.
Sian said joining a parent group made all the difference in the world for her as a young mum in a new city. “It’s been 15 years – but we’re all still friends. Parent groups are such a special area of Plunket.”
Knowing first-hand what a difference these groups make, Sian started volunteering for her local Plunket.
Fast-forward to today, and Sian’s now in a paid role within Plunket where she helps set up and run groups just like the ones that helped her all those years ago.
Parenting groups are run differently all over the country, but Sian loves the PIN Group format used in Wellington/Wairarapa.
Here, she organises the first four sessions for groups of new parents, which include:
- an icebreaker to help people get to know each other
- visits from a Plunket Health Worker/Kaiāwhina to talk about: sleep and settling; attachment, bonding, and brain development; and car seat safety
- time for parents and caregivers to chat together
- and of course, there’s always some delicious baking thanks to our wonderful volunteers.
Sian’s sessions last for one to two hours, and most babies in the group are under six months old.
After these more structured first four sessions, Sian will ask the group where they would like to meet next week (a café, the library) – and she’ll organise that last meeting.
From then on, it’s up to the group to self-organise when and where they would like to meet – or what they’d like to do together (walks, coffee).
Sian says, “There are lots of ways you can run parent groups – but I find this format works really. It’s lots of fun, and such a great way to create connections in your local community.”
Want to volunteer for your local Plunket?
Parent groups really rely on volunteers to be able to run successfully, and local coordinators like Sian would love to hear from you if you’re interested in helping.