AFTER Family Links UK


My 9 year old son didn’t believe he’d won a prize for his illustrated poem last week, but when we arrived at The Story Museum in Oxford last week, and saw his work mounted and framed on smart black display panels, he looked hugely relieved.

The charity Family Links UK had asked over 90 celebrities (Kylie Minogue, Will.I.Am, Sir Geoff Hurst and Zoe Ball to name but a few) to take part in an exhibition, as well as inviting school children to compete for prizes as well. They were to say what family means to them. The result was a display of over a hundred poignant and funny messages written and drawn on large postcards. My son was one of the prizewinners.

Alexander Armstrong is the Patron, and did a great job (in spite of his wife being on the verge of giving birth) of enthusiastically presenting certificates to the young winners – all of whom looked dead proud to have been selected out of a huge number of entries. 

Alexander Armstrong at Family Links

Here is my son receiving his ‘stiffcat’. Unfortunately at the time of publishing, his face was still pixilated.

When ‘J’ started in Reception, 5 years ago, we were told about the Family Links programme and the 10 week course (an hour a week) on offer and run by trained school staff. Bringing up kids is often wonderful but not always easy and we didn’t want to get it wrong (who feels great after yelling at their child to hurry up and get out of the door in the morning?) The course was going to help us as parents learn relationship skills and become more effective, caring and confident as carers. Nowadays, I am a better parent, but at first I just didn’t get it.


To be frank, I was just a little smug at the start, as our son was one of those annoyingly (to other parents of course!) well behaved children who’d only ever succumbed to about 3 tantrums in his short life (and that was due to not being fed and watered on time – a bit like his Dad. Well OK, me too). Others were struggling with any amount of issues that we just didn’t have.

Until a year and a half later when ‘J’ learnt the word


But I’d remembered what we’d learnt in the sessions and we’ve applied everything from the course and are a happier family as a result. (We still all need feeding and watering on time though).

The visionary Annette Mountford introduced the Nurturing Programme to the UK in 1992.  She and her team have since trained several thousand Parent Group Leaders (PGLs) who now reach 20,000 new Mums and Dads every year, helping them to be more emotionally resilient and socially responsible, which has an immediate and positive impact on their kids’ behaviour.

If you think it isn’t for you, consider passing the website details on to a friend who might be struggling. Do be tactful though, no one wants to feel they aren’t already doing their best. Family Links UK is a great charity and a very important one too – do visit their site to find out more. It doesn’t take much to be happy, but sometimes we need a bit of help along the way.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t got all your Christmas shopping done, go to this site on ebay where you can bid for an original artwork from one of your favourite TV or Sports personalities who contributed to this exhibition. Don’t dawdle though, someone might get there before you. See what I did there?


And hardly ANY capital letters

Here are some of the fab people who gave their time to raise money for Family Links UK

Family Links David Mitchell

David Mitchell

Family Links Korky Paul

Korky Paul

Ulrika Jonsson

Ulrika Jonsson

Giles Coren Family Links

Giles Coren

Tim Bentinck (David Archer)

David Bentinck

And here’s my big chance to use this blog for the good – DON’T LEAVE AMBRIDGE, DAVID ARCHER! (If you don’t listen to The Archers, or believe it to be only a work of fiction, ignore the rant)

Last, but by no means least, my son’s own poem. A tribute to his family which makes me feel we must be doing something right.

Family Links competition

It was a great evening. All the kids left with really big grins on their faces, holding hands with their proud and beaming parents.

Go and visit The Story Museum too – they’re in the centre of Oxford – loads of fun things to take the kids to over the holidays.

(This is not a sponsored post)


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  1. Well done to your son!!

    The course sounds great too. Is that where your husband learnt to put children through delicate cycle on the washing machine rather than ever day cotton ? 😉 x

    1. Ha ha! Yes how DID you know? Rather spoils effect sometimes when he puts son in tumble dryer, though at least he’s not dripping all over the floor x

  2. Totally agree to the idea of lessening tantrums is through adequate feeding and watering, and don’t forget sleep too! And explaining things properly to children, like why we have to go home right now and why he can’t have that £2,000 computer, etc.

    I see so many frustrated children crying their heads off because their parents don’t care enough to explain things properly to them, give them the attention they deserve and think of them first rather than themselves. Being selfish was left on the bedpost the minute you saw that positive pregnancy result!

    My son had one tantrum at 18 months, and seeing his father’s reaction decided it wasn’t worth having any more!

    1. Love the idea of leaving selfish behind on the bedpost Alice. So true. Plenty who don’t sadly and fit their kids constantly around busy schedules without sitting down to explain what the hell is going on. Wonder what your husband’s reaction was – the mind boggles, though it obviously worked !

  3. NOW I see what you were up to last week! You must be SO proud! Didn’t realise your son was only 9. And Family Links UK sounds like a much needed charity – ’emotional resilience’ is exactly what parents need to learn and arm themselves with, forget the bugaboo and Annabel Karmel cook books!

    1. Yeah all exciting stuff Siobhan! Vicky Arlidge, St Albans and The Odyssey another time i hope. I’m all for emotional resilience – a buffer against adversity. You’ve reminded me viz A. Karmel, of the sleepless nights I spent not nursing crying baby, but cooking, pureeing and freezing brocolli mush in ice cube trays. #madness

    1. Ha! Family Links Uk operates all over the country so do look out for them in Brighton. Really lovely people too #familylinksUK X

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