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Rare Beasts – shining a light on young parents


Steffan Llŷr Williams is the Head of Services at GISDA, based in North Wales. In this short piece Steffan discusses GISDA’s work and their participation in a BBC Writersroom Wales scheme which connects Welsh writers with projects funded by BBC Children in Need in Wales. Rare Beasts is a short animation that has been produced as a result of the scheme.

GISDA’s Young Parents project has been funded by BBC Children in Need for the last three years, funding provides support to young parents aged 18-years-old and under. The main objective of the project is to assist vulnerable parents and their children, to help make the transition from dependence to independent living, and thus breaking the cycle of families continuing to be dependent on social services. GISDA aims to improve the aspirations of young parents and their children to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life, as part of a strong and supportive community, where they will have the opportunity to flourish and enjoy the experience of being part of a family.

Being part of the BBC Writersroom Wales initiative  was an invaluable experience to all the young parents involved. It was a forum where they could express their feelings and emotions in a creative and innovative way in a safe and anonymous environment. It gave them the opportunity to offload a lot of  issues they faced day to day, and highlighted the importance the service  we provide has had on their future aspirations.  The young people we engaged with hoped the animation would encourage other young people like themselves to engage with organisations like GISDA who are there to support and encourage them when times are hard.

GISDA is a charity that provides intensive support and opportunities to vulnerable young people aged 16-25 years-old in Gwynedd. GISDA seeks to improve young people’s lives by working with them to develop their independent living skills, and improve their employability, health and wellbeing, and sense of self-worth. The support we offer each individual is tailored to their needs, by directly addressing the difficulties they are experiencing; we encourage individuals to set their own goals and achieve them with our guidance. Through the range of projects and therapeutic support that GISDA offers, young people gain the skills and confidence required to live independently.

I believe the animation, designed as part of the BBC Writersroom Wales Initiative  is a powerful piece of work, which encapsulates the initial feelings of a young parent when help is offered to them. In our experience we have seen how young people are reluctant to engage with agencies, because of pre-conceived feelings of mistrust, which is a significant barrier to overcome.  Our work with the BBC Writersroom Wales, allows young parents to share their feelings in a creative way, which is something that many may not be able to do just by talking, as it’s far removed from their day to day struggles.

The project has continued to support young parents throughout Covid-19, and we have been able to adapt the way we work, by continuing to offer our services to young people. We have seen an increase in the needs of young parents with their mental health, anxiety and depression. The staff have all been fantastic in their support and guidance during this difficult time.

To read more about how Writer Tim Price was inspired to create Rare Beasts, please click here.

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