The Best Start Grant is a package comprising of three payments intended to help families with costs in a child's early years. It is provided by Social Security Scotland and the payments can be applied for and accessed separately.
The Pregnancy and Baby Payment is the first instalment of the Best Start Grant, and is a replacement of the Sure Start Maternity Grant. This payment consists of £600 for your first child, and £300 for other children - and is to help with expenses in pregnancy such as maternity clothes, a pram, or additional heating.
The second instalment is the Early Learning Payment, aimed at children aged from two years to three years and six months. This £250 portion of the grant is intended to help with costs around the time the child starts nursery.
The final part of the Best Start Grant is the School Age Payment, which will coincide with the time the child starts primary school. This £250 payment can help with costs of school uniforms, a school bag, books, or days out.
The Best Start Grant is aimed at low income families, and if you are in receipt of certain benefits you may be eligible. You can check your eligibility and apply on the MyGov.Scot website here.
Keeping safe online is as important for adults as it is for children and young people. But knowing what to trust and what to be cautious of isn't always easy. For Safer Internet Day 2020 we'd like to share some resources about keeping safe online that are suitable for all ages.
Childnet International is a great resource for parents who are looking for advice on topics such as screen time, social media, and cyber bullying among many other topics. This website also has advice specific to certain age ranges. If you've got a child in primary school we recommend this interactive page about what to do in certain situations;
The UK Safer Internet Centre is another website offering advice about cyber security. We especially like their blog posts, here's a link to all posts with the tag "parents".
Lastly, we'd like to recommend the Report Harmful Content website for if you or someone you care for has ever been in a situation where harmful content is present, this includes impersonation, threats, or other abuse and inappropriate content.
January can be a difficult time for many people, whether you're trying to stick to New Year's resolutions or if you're struggling with the lack of light this time of year.
We've shared some useful resources if you've been trying to improve your finances, and we know sticking to a budget is a stressful task. It's easy to feel overwhelmed or to give up entirely after a short while.
Because of this, we think it's important to not only provide information on how to budget, but also on how to deal with the stress that often arises with it.
The NHS provide five steps to improving your mental wellbeing, namely to connect with other people, be physically active, learn new skills, give to others, and to practice mindfulness. We've compiled ways that you can tick all these boxes with the help of Cothrom in the list below.
1. Connect with other people
Feeling supported and cared for is a vital part of mental wellbeing, and building new meaningful relationships with other people is a great way to start. Cothrom can offer a space and opportunities to build these relationship, whether you attend as a learner or as a volunteer. Our volunteering roles are varied in both tasks and time commitment, whether you'd like to spend a day a month helping out on the van or in the garden, or if you'd like to come in once a week to work with the sewing machine or to upcycle and refurbish furniture. You can read more about volunteering opportunities here, or you can get in touch to see what role we can create for you.
2. Be physically active
Being physically active will improve both your physical and your mental health. However, committing to an exercise class or saying that you'll go to the gym once or twice a week can be hard to keep up with as it easily becomes a task or a burden that interferes with your down time. Luckily there are other ways to keep active. We've already mentioned gardening and helping out in the van as volunteering opportunities, but we also host Kevin Morrison each week for a Gentle Movement class which is perfect if you'd rather partake in less strenuous exercise in a social environment (especially since sitting down for tea afterwards is just as important as the exercise itself!). Gentle Movement takes place every Thursday afternoon at 2pm here at Cothrom Learning Centre.
3. Learn new skills
Adult learning can be a fantastic way to boost self-esteem and build a sense of purpose. And you don't need to commit to a full time course to reap the benefits! Cothrom can help you with tasks such as updating your CV, gaining a PC passport, practicing for your driving theory test, as well as a variety of SVQ's including in horticulture, business and admin, and child care. Depending on how much time you'd like to commit to learning something new, we are certain that we have something for you. But you don't need to commit to a course to learn with Cothrom - we can help you develop skills in woodworking, upcycling, and textiles at ReStore or other computer-based learning in the Learning Centre. More information about our courses are available under the tab Training in the menu at the top of the page.
We also host regular Knit & Natter evenings at Cothrom, which take place each Tuesday evening at 7-9pm. On Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8pm Ceòlas hold Gaelic classes for beginners and intermediate learners, here at the Learning Centre.
4. Give to others
You don't need to donate physical items like clothes or even money in order to give to others. Volunteering your time is just as generous and rewarding. We've already mentioned volunteering in previous points, but you can also volunteer to tutor and share a skill at Cothrom. For example, if you've got an interest in basketry, orienteering, creative writing, or any other area you can offer to tutor a small class in your topic of expertise during a short time. We think that adult learning is not just for improving your CV, but is the best way to discover new interests and friends. You can let us know if you're willing to share a skill with us through the contact details at the bottom of this post.
5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Practising mindfulness can feel peculiar if you're not used to ever slowing down. But you don't need to go to a yoga class or read self-help books to become more mindful. Appreciating the moment you're in can be as easy as making sure you hear the end of a song you like before turning off the radio, eating your lunch at a table instead of at your desk, or dedicating time to take a bath or a hot shower after a long day. If you're inside for most of the day, whether at home or in an office, one of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to spend a little bit of time outside in the fresh air. We also think that steps 1-4 on this list can themselves help with improving mindfulness.
Do you know other ways to improve your mental wellbeing that worked for you? Let us know, we'd love to share more tips (anonymously if you so wish)!
If you'd like to get more information on adult learning, volunteering, skill sharing, or ways in which Cothrom can help you - get in touch on 01878 700910 or send us an email to email@example.com
The beginner and the intermediate Gaelic classes organised by Ceòlas have started back up on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm here at Cothrom. There is also a mixed class at Sgoil Lionacleit on Tuesdays (4-6pm) if you can't make it to the Wednesday class here. Please get in touch with Fionna on firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Knit & Natter is back on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm. Bring a project and enjoy a cuppa. £2/session.
Learn to grow your own vegetables and flowers with this free SVQ level 1 or 2 course in horticulture delivered by Cothrom in partnership with Lews Castle college. The courses are taught through weekly group tutorials during spring and summer with portfolios completed during the winter.
Read more on our horticulture SVQ page here.
If you've got questions or want more information about enrolling your child into Gaelic Medium Education, especially in light of the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's latest decision to automatically enrol all children going in to Primary 1 in 2020/21 to Gaelic medium unless parents request English medium, we are showing a live stream panel from E-sgoil in Stornoway on Tuesday 21st January at 7pm here at Cothrom.
Before the live stream you'll also be able to ask questions about 'Càirdeas Coimhearsnachd', a partnership project of which one of the aims is to give parents practical support towards raising their children with Gaelic.
For more event information, please see the listing on Facebook here. You will also be able to watch the live stream yourself if you are unable to attend, here.
One of the best ways to stick to your food shopping budget is to shop around for the best deals. However, if you are unable to travel or only have access to one shop, another good way of making the most of your money us to keep an eye out what deals are available currently as well as in the near future. This way you can purchase items that you'll need in the near future when they are at a lower price - but it does take a little bit of extra planning to make sure you are not buying things purely because they are on offer. We'd also like to add that going food shopping when you're hungry is never a good idea!
You can keep track on what offers are available at the Co-op on their website here. The Co-op offer some great membership deals, including money off your shopping (and for every Co-op's own brand item you buy, some of the money goes to a charitable local cause!).
If you're struggling with meal ideas for the week then looking at the Co-op's offers may provide some inspiration. For example, this week we're sharing a recipe for chicken fricassee and the Co-op currently have offers on ingredients including onions, rice, and you can change the recipe for whatever vegetable (frozen or fresh) that's on offer, this week it's frozen peas.