Marvellous Mums has brought together researchers and community partners to support disadvantaged women from local communities to recognise their own skills and strengths.  Armed with new confidence and aspirations, many have been able to take positive and significant steps to improve their own lives, and the lives of their families.

Many programmes strive to raise the aspirations of young people from under-represented communities. But such schemes often fail to address the central need for parents to have the confidence to support these aspirations. Marvellous Mums helps to empower local parents from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Informed by Professor Fuller’s research, it gives mums the tools to understand their own skills, in order to build lasting confidence.

The 10-week collaborative programmes involve the mums, the researchers, and community partners, including Reading Borough Council’s social work team and Ufton Court Educational Trust. Activities include personal goal-setting and self-reflection sessions, as well as social family meet-ups to build a sense of belonging. Some activities take place at the University – de-mystifying it in the process – while others are held in community spaces.

Forty mums have completed the programme so far, and new partners continue to join the scheme, including Alana House – which supports female offenders and women with complex needs. Self-reported levels of confidence have risen in all the ‘graduates’, with many now in work or education, and others leaving bad relationships. And momentum continues to build with additional research projects developing and two Marvellous Mums recruited as paid researchers in a follow-up project between the University and Alana House.

Team: Carol Fuller and Maria Danos

In partnership with Whitley Community Development Association, Alana House, Parents and Carers Together (PACT).

Funded by University of Reading

Shortlisted for the University Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2020
First published: June 2020