On Friday 2nd December, Jodie and Simon from the Coop in Poole presented Racheal, our SMILE Project Lead, with a cheque for £1,862. This was the culmination of a year of fundraising in local Coop shops. Coop members chose SMILE as their preferred project, and then Coop put aside 1% of what these members spent on their groceries in some of the Poole stores to go to SMILE.
Racheal, the project lead said: “we can’t tell you how grateful we are for this wonderful support. It is such a creative idea from the Coop Local Community Fund. We just want to say thank you to every shopper who made the decision to pick SMILE as their chosen cause.
As we say Lone parenting doesn’t have to be lonely parenting – and our SMILE activities, whether a simple coffee morning or the annual Lone Parent Fair, help rebuild self-confidence and strengthen families to the benefit of both adults and children.
This funding means more parents can receive counselling support, benefit from special VIP days out, and above all, we can continue to give Hope when it seems all too difficult.”
There are 1.8 million lone-parent families in the UK, and half of the children in those families live in relative poverty a Guardian newspaper study showed earlier in 2022. In the Poole area, SMILE supports and connects with over 300 lone parent families.
Some of the greatest support on offer to parents is to know they are not alone. In some cases, that starts by linking in with the SMILE Connect Facebook group to pick up tips and ideas from other parents, as well as share concerns and build friendships.
Some of the families also benefit from a weekly Cook Bag over the summer holidays – a brilliant idea where SMILE links in with the Friendly Food Club to provide a recipe, all the necessary ingredients, and a video of how to make the meal.
SMILE distributed 320 Cook Bags last summer and hope to continue this initiative in future school holidays. It’s not only about helping when there are no free school meals, but it’s about building resilience in families. One parent shared: “Me and the boys have just sat and eaten dinner together for the first time in 2 years”.
SMILE continues to work with local churches such as St James’ in Poole (the base for its annual Lone Parent Fair), and The Spire where a monthly board games café takes place. The team also have fantastic links with Poole Food Bank at Jimmy’s and the team at Poole Pantry at Parkstone United Reformed Church. If anyone would like to continue to support SMILE, then please click on the button below to give a regular or one-off gift.
Working to bring hope to stressed and sometimes overwhelmed lone parent families is not glamorous, but the funding from the Coop Local Community Fund has shone a spotlight on this brilliant project.
One mum summed it up well: “I appreciate everything that SMILE has done for me and my family and I love how it’s one big family no matter what’s going on, everyone is there for you and you’re there for everyone else.”