An Oasis of hope for women and families affected by drugs and alcohol

The Brighton Oasis Project (BOP) launched their new Mellow Parenting service today (Tuesday, 15th March) to help support the parents in our community whose lives are affected by drugs and alcohol form more positive relationships with their children.

David Cameron has recently announced a wish for more parents to have access to parenting programs and more support with this most challenging of roles. In 2014-15, BOP provided care co-ordination for 195 women and 91per cent of the women they worked with who had alcohol problems left treatment successfully. During the same year, 57 children attended the crèche that BOP provide through Young Oasis Project and 79 different children accessed therapy too. BOP is hoping that the new Mellow Parenting program is going to provide additional support for some of the most vulnerable families in our city, setting these families up for success.

The new initiative is an early intervention parenting group working with mums and babies to help form a strong bond between parent and child and create a safe environment so the parent can grow and improve their coping skills for how to form a stronger relationship with their child at this crucial stage.

Rebecca Newman, Parenting Practitioner at Brighton Oasis Project, said: “It’s important that we separate the classes to different age groups to cater to different needs at that early stage of parenting and also to allow the mums and children to interact and work with peers at a similar time in their lives. Mellow Parenting is empowering and strength based, it’s working with what the mothers already have and showing them what they can do rather than criticising them and saying what they’re doing is wrong. The parents in the Mellow Parenting classes will work together to encourage their own strengths and unique attributes and prove to themselves how they can make a difference to their lives and the lives of their children.”

Rebecca Newman, Parenting Practitioner at Brighton Oasis Project
Rebecca Newman, Parenting Practitioner at Brighton Oasis Project

Mellow Parenting is an evidence based parenting intervention developed to support parents and their children in making good relationships with programs designed for mums, dads, pregnant women and dad’s to be as well as a program adapted to support parents with learning difficulties. 

Thanks to a recent three year funding grant from the charitable trust, Trusthouse, Oasis has been able to train two parenting practitioners, in mellow parenting, to carry out this much needed work which will work with children from 0 to four-years-old and their parents.

Rebecca, one of the practitioners who received the training explained: “We’re so lucky to have received that grant so we can provide this service which will be invaluable to a lot of parents in the local area. There is a real need in the city for this service, we launched on 15th March with our first group of mums and babies but I’ve already had a huge amount of referrals from workers across Brighton & Hove for additional classes from 0 to four months. There is a real need to help the young families across the city.”

Rebecca added: “BOP realised there was a significant need to support clients with young children and to get in as fast as possible and help set them up for success. A lot of the parents we work with haven’t had great role models or positive interaction with parent figures themselves so they will really benefit from this unique and bonding approach.”

The Mellow Parenting group at BOP will work with alcohol and substance misusers of all kinds in Brighton & Hove helping a wide variety of women, some recently out of treatment and some who have been in recovery for quite a few years, become closer to their babies.

For mothers accessing treatment at BOP currently, the service offers a Crèche as part of the recovery programme which allows the mothers to have one less worry that could prevent them from accessing the treatment. The Mellow Parenting group will be unique by breaking the day up into sections some of which will be with their children and others will be solely with the mothers.

Rebecca explained: “We will actually have the children in the group for the first part of the Mellow Parenting Day and will use fun, interactive activities so that the mums can work on bonding with their children and practice attachment strategies. It will also allow them to come to terms with any potential issues they face in a safe and encouraging environment. We’re so lucky to have the resources we do and the brilliant crèche at Young Oasis Project because without it the parents could grow even further from their children, now with Mellow Parenting and Young Oasis crèche they have such a better chance.”Brighton Oasis Project -Logo

With certain TV portrayals and media coverage the women we work with can be stigmatised as being neglectful or having caused their babies to be addicted to drugs and this is something BOP are keen to re-educate. “Mellow parenting is all about breaking the cycle of drug dependency being handed down and putting a stop to the stigma surrounding substance and alcohol misusers and their children.” Rebecca said. “It’s not easy. It’s one of the most challenging jobs someone can ever have but the treatment is all about empowering them to know that they can form a really special attachment with their children and know that their children will grow up in a more stable and nurtured environment than they might have done.

“It’s really important to be able to stop disadvantage at an early stage and Mellow Parenting is a preventative form of therapy so it’s not about telling them they’ve done something wrong, it’s a brilliant opportunity to help mums and change the lives of children.”

BOP hope to be able to branch out to provide the service to fathers in the future too ensuring that there is a focus on that bond which the charity feel is just as valuable and important a relationship for a child.

Jo-Anne Welsh, Director of Brighton Oasis Project, said: “The Mellow Parenting program is all about providing a strong bond that can provide stability for the children and the parents allowing them all to break the cycle and create a better future together and we feel it’s just as important to nurture that relationship with the children as well as the mums.”

The first 14 week group kicked off this March supporting mums with babies aged 0-18 month.  The project will be externally evaluated and will add to the research being carried out by Mellow Parenting, in Glasgow. 

Explaining why Oasis are at the forefront of this positive approach in addressing the current situation in Brighton and Hove, Rebecca explained: “I’m so proud to work at such a unique and valuable service in the city, it truly is an Oasis!”

For more information about Brighton Oasis Project go to