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Massage, singing and shopping are all part of the job of Claire Bowles, who works for Sure Start Parr in St Helens, Merseyside Monday

Massage, singing and shopping are all part of the job of Claire Bowles, who works for Sure Start Parr in St Helens, Merseyside


Drink my second cup of tea to wake me up. I prepare for the morning's home visits, contacting families to give them new information on activity groups and services.

I visit one family to deliver a baby massage session. The family has four children and they all love to join in with the session, which usually lasts around one hour. This particular session lasts two hours by the time we have cleaned up the gallons of oil the children have been massaging each other with. I'm covered in the stuff, but at least my skin is smooth!

In the afternoon I visit a family whose seven-month-old baby has severe pains when trying to open her bowels. I demonstrate a special massage technique to relieve wind and move the bowels, and both Mum and Nan feel confident to carry on with this. I get a phone call shortly after to say the baby was 'going' regularly and with no pain. What a relief.


Today starts with our portage worker Natascha and I running around the office preparing our PEEP (Peers Early Education Partnership) session. This is for one- to two-year-olds and is all about adults and children, playing, talking, listening and singing together. I especially enjoy the group because we can really connect with the parents and carers at the talk time, and they can share ideas and experiences in an informal setting.

After lunch break I sit with Natascha to evaluate the morning group and discuss successes and areas where we may be able to improve. We then settle down for this week's early years team meeting. This gives us a chance to have a chat together about our groups and projects, and share ideas. We love this time of the week, as it's an excuse to have a cuppa and a sticky bun. The diets go out of the window for that hour!


Today is dedicated to planning my activity groups and home visits for the coming weeks. I also start to put an action plan together for our Safe and Sound project, which enables parents/carers to purchase safety equipment at very low prices, and to receive small safety packs on home visits.

As I am in the building, there's an opportunity to meet some new parents and catch up with familiar faces at our Baby Boutique. Parents/carers can browse through a large selection of nearly-new baby and toddler clothes and buy them at reasonable prices. It is a lovely way for the parents to get together over a cup of tea and a time for me to feel broody over the babies!


This morning I run a respite group called Stay and Playtime. It gives families time to spend with other children or alone for two hours a week.

Our activity today is painting, which is fun even though there is more paint on the children and me than the paper.

After the group, I rush off to attend HomeStart's multiple birth group to give a baby massage taster session. By the end of the session I am so confused that I cannot remember the names of the triplets and the twins.

At 3.15pm we board the bus to take families to the local swimming baths. We pick up some families at the schools so older children can attend with their younger siblings. We enjoy splashing each other, even though I vow each week not to get my hair wet!


What better way to start a Friday than shopping, but this time it's not for me. We travel to St Helens to buy books and toys for Santa to give to the children at our Christmas party. We also buy decorations and silly hats to wear during 'Santa's magical tour', when we will be travelling around the Parr area giving out goodies and wishing all our families a Merry Christmas.

The afternoon is spent in my baby massage group. This is a great way to finish the week, with relaxing music and dim lights. I continue this feeling at home, settling down with a glass of wine and watching my favourite TV programmes with my husband.NW

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