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Phoenix Place Playroom
To provide a fun, interactive environment for babies and parents to enjoy, supporting the development of cognitive and physical skills.
The public image of people who are homeless is often adults who are rough sleeping. Few people envision babies when they think of people who are homeless. Unfortunately, this is the reality for the mothers and babies we support at Phoenix Place.
Phoenix Place is supported accommodation for up to twenty five parents and babies who are homeless. Being homeless is an incredibly isolating time for parents, who will often struggle to engage with services out of embarrassment and fear, during a time when engagement is crucial to support them out of homelessness.
I am writing to you to ask for support in developing a playroom for the babies and parents here at Phoenix Place. I would like the playroom to have low level soft play that will support the babies in developing skills such as crawling, walking and play. I would also like the room to have a sensory corner with lights, sound and touch elements and I would like there to be a book corner, to help the babies develop their imaginations and creativity. I believe the babies and parents I work with are worth the effort in developing not just a room with toys, but a space they can be proud to use, a space they can invite their friends, family and professionals into and most importantly, a space that is going to provide a positive environment for their babies physical and cognitive development. The play space would have the additional benefit of providing a space for our parents to come together as a community for emotional and parenting support and allow staff, to engage with parents in support sessions in a space that is safe for their babies to explore.
Although a playroom will not solve the housing crisis in Bristol, what I would like to achieve with the playroom is a space the parents and babies can use and enjoy free of the anxieties and worries they are currently facing, which I hope will go some way to mitigate the negative impact of homelessness on babies. According to a paper written by the NSPCC An unstable Start, the negative impact of homelessness for babies can have long standing negative impact later in life.
*After birth babies’ brains and bodies develop rapidly. Negative experiences can have long reaching impact and affect success later in life.
*Babies need a safe and stimulating environment where they can grow and learn to explore. Healthy infant development leads to improved emotional health and they grow to be happier adults. Research has shown babies that are homeless decline in general developmental function between 4 and 30 months.
*Parents need stability to provide routine and ensure their emotional health needs are being cared for, to enable to provide sensitive, responsive and consistent emotional care for their babies. Babyhood is a critical life stage, babies are more vulnerable and susceptible to stress and adversity in their parents and are more likely to spend more time at home.
*Parents can be placed in accommodation far away from their family and friends, which isolates them and has a direct impact on their emotional wellbeing and the parenting that can provide to their babies.
Too often provision for babies can be forgotten when developing services. Although Phoenix Place provides a vital service to people who are homeless in Bristol, the need for accommodation for parents and babies has sadly risen. As a result, additional space was created to support them, but we do not have a space dedicated specifically to our babies, which is something I am working towards changing.
It is not enough to just provide a room for parents and babies who are homeless. Babies need an environment that supports their developmental needs and emotional wellbeing. I am dreaming big with the visions I have for the playroom, but I passionately believe the parents and babies are worth the effort.