Leeds Student Parent Easter Party

Ball pits, musical bumps and a free buffet were all part of the fun at Leed’s annual student parent Easter party! Though it was a long way from London, Student Parents made the trip to be part of what was a great day.

[View the story “Leeds Student Parent Easter Party!” on Storify]

The journey to Leeds started early on the 31st March. With one day to get there and back, Student Parents were determined to make the most of it. Lillie and Robyn, from the Student Parents team woke up before sunrise in order to catch the 8am bus from Victoria. Unfortunately, they’d forgotten that London tube lines like to cause havoc on a Saturday, and the Victoria line, the very one they needed, was closed all day! After a mad dash across London where Robyn had to get 3 tubes, and Lillie 2 buses, they missed the bus by minutes! After a long debate of what to do next, they decided this event wasn’t one to be missed and paid up for another ticket for the 9am bus.

The day had started as it meant to go on. When they arrived in Leeds, tired and hungry, they headed to the nearest Maccy D’s to refuel. But this time it was the big camera bags that were the issue- and as Lillie lowered the tray of food to the table, the camera bag slipped off her shoulder pulling her arm down and sending their lunch flying! (Needless to say Robyn wasn’t too happy.)

Things went from bad to worse, as the pair frantically ran around the town centre, trying to figure out which bus to catch to get to the university. With neither in a mood to party, they questioned why they’d bothered making the trip in the first place!

However, they finally made it to the event, and remembered the point of the excursion. Student Parents aims to share the stories of those who study with children and put student parents on the map. When we walked into the Riley Smith Hall at the Leeds University Union, we realised we’d found a group whose aim was exactly the same.

Josina, president of the Leeds student parent society, gave us a warm welcome, though feeling the pressure a little of organising such a big event. The bouncy castle supplier had let her down and was unable to make it, but the kids didn’t seem to care. There were rocking horses, arts and crafts, activity packs and a play area all available for the children. Free tea and coffee and a buffet had been put on by the university as well- this being the first time the university had got on board with a student parent event.

Student Parents spoke to Rosie, part of the Diversity Working Group at the University, and Charlie, who had just been elected for the second year as Equality and Diversity Officer for Leeds University. They both explained how the uni has been helping out minority student groups, and the student parent society had helped bring student parent’s needs to their attention. They explained that the university was putting aside extra funding, and from next year they will collect data on how many student parents attend Leeds University, so they can judge accurately what needs to be done to improve their university experience. (For more information from Charlie and Rosie, check out our interviews)

One person who was particularly pleased with this change was Saskia, who had set up the society 2 years ago. Helen, another ex- president was also at the event as well as Josina who runs the club now. Thanks to the society, their children all know each other and play together, and the three of them are great friends.

We also spoke to many other parents studying at the university- around 30 student parents attended! Siada, whose husband studies at the University told Student Parents how she and her two children love the event; they attend every year. Kaniz and her son Kaysam were having great fun making spring animal masks. Kaysam, 4, is learning English, and when Student Parents asked him what he thought of the event his response was ‘Happy!’

However, it was not only student parents there. Staff at the university also found the society a great help. We spoke to Georgina, who works for the union. Her son Leo now knows all the children and attends nursery on campus with a number of them as well. “It’s great that the staff get to mix with the students. For me, that is the best thing about these events- and that Leo gets to see his friends. Though I do think the uni should still be doing more to help out student parents.”

In the end, Robyn and Lillie stayed for the rest of the event, even when the staff were cleaning up around them! They spoke to loads of student parents, many with inspiring stories and all with praise for the society. They loved that they had somewhere to go to meet others, and could really feel part of a University that often overlooked them in normal circumstances. It gave them a break from studying and parenting responsibilities, gave the children a free meal, and the parents a chance to socialise with some like- minded people.

Leeds student parent society- we look forward to the next one!

Lillie

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