Every day is a new day

“If you’re old enough to read this then you and I will have been through a lot together”

These powerful words are spoken directly from young mums to their children as part of a book they have created highlighting their experience of being a young mum. The mums have created a story that captures the challenges and joys of being a young mum.

The recent announcement in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2019/20 to invest £1 million in young parents shows the recognition and commitment to support an often-overlooked group and to improve the lives of young parents and their children. Listening to and sharing the experiences of young parents is a key part of ensuring the success of the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy so that young parents are part of the current political agenda.

Working alongside the young mum groups from The Citadel Youth Centre, together with Museums and Galleries, Edinburgh and Mike Nicholson, a children’s writer, I helped them create a beautiful and emotive storybook for their children when they grow up.

For the past year, Children in Scotland has been delivering the Heritage Hunters project. The aim of the project was to bring together children and young people and the heritage sector using a co-produced and youth-lead approach. The project was a unique opportunity to bring together heritage organisations with groups of young people who don’t often have opportunities to engage with the heritage sector.

Encouraging creative expression is a key element of participation and storytelling is often used to help young people share their views and experiences in a safe way. With this project the young mums were able to use heritage to share their voices and experiences in a way that was unique to them.

The story brings to life their different experiences and explores themes of friendship, learning new skills, feeling supported by other young mums and the special bond they have with their child. However, the story itself doesn’t shy away from some of the more negative aspects of being a young mum including: judgement, stigma, stress and money worries. It highlights the need to respect these young women and their courage.

“It’s our everyday life. This is us, this is who we are. Take it or leave it.” (young mum)

The most powerful part of this experience was watching the young mums read from the book at their book launch. It was inspiring to see young women taking up space and to watch them feel empowered to share their stories and experiences on their own terms. The young mums embodied the qualities of the young mum in the book including: being strong, brave and confident and standing strong with their children in their arms.     

 “I wouldn’t change being a mum for the world” (Young mum)

Additionally, creating the storybook was a fantastic experience of partnership working for all the partners.

The story reflects on both the past and present and leaves a legacy for their children and families in the future. The book is now its own piece of heritage, ensuring that the voices and stories of the young mums will continue to be heard.

The book was part of the Bringing up Baby exhibition at the Museum of Childhood and will become part of the permanent collection at Edinburgh’s Museums Collection Centre. The book can be accessed from Children in Scotland https://childreninscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Every-Day-St4b-Final-layout1.pdf