We are the champions
Meet parent champions Coreana Youngman and Ashleigh Jackson, who are helping to change lives across Islington through peer-to-peer support. They talk to IslingtonLife about why they signed up for the job, how it’s making a difference in their communities, and the challenges of being a parent or carer in 2023
What inspired you to become a parent champion?
Coreana: Sadly, my son lost a close friend to knife crime. Seeing the devastation caused by the tragic ordeal of losing their friend stirred up a need and passion to do more in my community. I wanted to be a part of the solution to support our young people to feel safe, and to thrive, succeed and live their best lives.
Ashleigh: I’ve always had a knack for helping people. I am passionate about guiding children, young people and parents on their journey.
What sorts of projects have you been involved in and how have they made a difference?
Coreana: I have co-hosted a programme on keeping young people safe and a webinar about supporting young people with neurodiverse conditions. I believe all the projects we as parent champions participate in make a difference: not only are we learning from the training, but we are having our voices heard by senior leaders by sitting on various panels and providing awareness to other parents and carers. Together, we are bridging the gap between the community and the police.
Ashleigh: I’m a part of the Superzone Project, which are coffee mornings held at local primary schools, where we talk about safety and education, domestic violence, exploitation and other matters parents are worried about. We share information with parents and signpost them to organisations that can help.
I’ve also been involved in Social Switch Training about children’s online safety and the tell-tale signs they are being groomed, for example – as well as the apps you can use to keep them safe, and how to talk to them about issues around online safety.
Ashleigh Jackson receiving her parent champion certificate
What are the biggest challenges for parents and carers?
Coreana: The biggest challenge for parents and carers is the fear of our children not feeling or being safe on the streets – the fear of being stopped by police and it not ending well, gang violence, or being a victim of knife crime.
Ashleigh: Online safety, the influence of music on young people and the effects of being a single parent. Mental health issues in young people also feel like they’re at an all-time high. It’s a scary time to be a parent, especially with the cost of living crisis. All I can do is give my children the best advice possible.
What advice would you give to other parents and carers?
Coreana: You’re not alone: there are always others that are going through or have gone through a similar situation. That’s why we need to come together as a community; the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true. That’s what I enjoy most about my role – being a part of a unique ‘familyhood’ with fellow parent champions. I’ve gained so much from hearing about their life experiences.
Ashleigh: This is your journey. Research the unknown and also never give up on wanting to know more about your children’s education and life outside of your home. Learn your children’s mindsets, have those awkward conversations. Prevention is always better than cure.
The Parent Champions scheme is funded by the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit as part of the Islington and Camden Parental Support Project, which helps put parents and carers in touch with experts who can advise them on topics such as social media training, speech and language help, and support with claiming benefits.
To find out more about the scheme or to attend an event, visit the council website.