Focus: Campaign of the week - TimeBank seeks out Real Parents

Georgina Lock, georgina.lock@haynet.com

Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan and Jamie and Jools Oliver are the celebrities British parents would be most likely to turn to for parenting support, according to a survey published to kick off the Real Parents campaign.

Volunteering charity TimeBank and national family support charity Home-Start launched the campaign in a bid to recruit volunteers to support struggling parents.

The campaign is intended to coincide with Mother's Day, with media and marketing activity centred on Birmingham, where there is a high demand for volunteers, and Norfolk, where recruiting in rural areas has proved difficult.

Research showed that most of the 582 people sampled found being a parent of young children difficult - more than two-thirds said their lives were easier before having children, one in four admitted they didn't cope easily and nearly one in five said they worried that other people were more competent parents.

The campaign is particularly targeting stay-at-home parents or those under the age of 35 who work part-time. It also aims to recruit volunteers who are more representative of the ethnic and cultural mix of the communities in which Home-Start operates.

Home-Start wants to recruit 750 new volunteers through the campaign, with 60 per cent under 45, 40 per cent under 35 and 20 per cent from a BME background.

The creative theme plays with the Mary Poppins image to convey the idea that you don't have to be a 'super nanny' to make a difference - instead, the charities are looking for "real people with real parenting experience".

The marketing drive includes direct mail, email and leaflets distributed in nurseries. The aim is to plant the idea in people's minds before their children start school and they are likely to have more time on their hands.

PR activity will be focused on the survey results, which give insights into how people view their own parenting skills.

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