WITH five children of her own, Joanne Ellis is ideally placed to know what parents want.
The 32-year-old, from Fleetwood, was recently appointed as a family champion volunteer by Wyre Council.
Her role will be to identify what is needed for local families through a parents’ network.
She will also help promote the activities the council is planning for the summer holidays and beyond to local families. She will work with the families to devise events, with support from the council staff.
Joanne, who has volunteered at Sure Start Fleetwood for the past seven years, said: “I really enjoy working with families and I also run my own toddler group on a Friday.
“I felt I wanted to take my work further, so when I saw the advert for a facilitator for young families programme, I felt I had to apply.
“I was really pleased when I got the role. It’s not a 9 to 5 role, it involves getting out and about and speaking to parents, which is what I like doing.
“It suits me with having the children, my eldest is 14 and the youngest is five, so I can work it around them coming home from school.”
Joanne’s first major task will involve getting a parents’ forum together, to talk about the activities they would like to see.
The group will work with Joanne to create an activities programme from April to the end of September. They will also put together a programme of events in the Marine Hall and its newly-created outdoor performance space.
Joanne said: “The Marine Hall is such a great place. With it having the renovations, it’s going to be able to offer even more.
“I remember when I was young – because I grew up in Fleetwood – how we used to go to the pantomime, to see performance artists, at the Marine Hall and other activities.
“That’s the sort of thing I want to bring back, it’s nice for the younger generations to be able to experience that.
“At the moment, there’s not much really in Fleetwood along those lines. People could go to see pantomimes in Blackpool, but they tend to be at the theatre and, if you’ve got five kids, then you’re talking about quite an expense.
“We are looking to try to come up with activities which do not cost a lot of money.
“I’ve got lots of ideas and love talking to the local parents about their ideas and what they want to see. It’s great to have this set up as it’s really important to listen to parents.
“I feel I want to put something back, as Sure Start really helped me when my children were younger.
“There wasn’t really anything around when I first had children, when I had my eldest two, but when I had my middle daughter, who is 10 now, Sure Start had started up and I couldn’t believe there hadn’t been something like that before.”