Well, this year has been pretty crazy for Prymface et al! So to break it all down, here is a month by month account of what's been going on, al a 'young mums in 2011' and 'young mums in 2010'.....

January

2012 kicked off with a lovely email from Sexpression, a network of medical students who teach sex and relationship education, who wanted me to come and talk at their annual Europe-wide peer sex education conference, NECSE, in the spring. With my biggest fear being public speaking I jumped at the chance! (or was slowly persuaded but convinced another young mum, Charley, to do to with me!)
We also saw Teen Mums and Me on the telly, presented by Kim Marsh, a former teen mum'; The first time I head "Lets stop judging people and give them a break" on telly in reference to teen mums!


February

In February, a new comedy series, Pramface, hit our small screens, which was basically funny and refreshing. Mike from the show also became a regular tweet companion! (If slightly inappropriate at times, causing people to think my account had been hacked!)

This month we also got the amazing news that Care to Learn had been saved!! This was a complete u-turn for the government as their plan was to consult on the best option to reduced it, with their preferred options to reduce the age limit. Instead it has remained unchanged and I like to think that our own effort to capture the views of over 80 young mums and put forward a compelling argument why Care to Learn is vital for young parents in continuing education helped a wee bit!

Anyway, there was no time to relax as the DfEs consultation into raising the participation age also opened that month and we really needed to ensure that young mums views were taken into account when the government made its plans to ensure all students up to 18 were in full time education...

March

In March we started setting up Young Parent Associates, which is basically an email group of young mums who are keen to involved in stuff! As they started sending their introductions in I was totally humbled by how amazing they all were! Its been great to be able to have this group to share stuff with and pass on emails I get from those genuinely interested in what young mums have to say!

In March we also heard the Teenage Pregnancy Myth on Radio 4 which highlighted a lot of our concerns around teenage pregnancy always being seen as a 'problem'. It also raised the issue of how the stereotype negatively affects young mums. In the same month we saw the production of these fantastic posters, by young mums. The purpose of the project, by Inspired Youth Arts, was to present positive images of young parents in the media. Definitely well done!

April

In April I went along to the NECSE conference in the peak district to talk about An Alternative Perspective on Young Parenthood (unfortunately Charley was ill so I braved it on own) -  I have to say it was the most positive audience I have ever spoke to and they made me feel so welcome - it was a real buzz and people seem to be genuinely interested in what I was saying!

We also submitted a response to the DfEs consultation into raising the participation age, which highlighted the need for flexibility for young parents, including time off, and options for shorter hours, without being pushed onto 'special courses'. Again over 80 young parents gave their views and it was great to submit another compelling argument to support young parents!

May

In May a group of brave young parents, including Emily, took their children on BIKES on a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Expedition to Holland!! They learnt loads about sex ed and support for young parents over in Holland and have presented findings back to the RBKC Mayors Parlour!

I was also asked to present at a ReACH Network Seminar at Herfordshire University about the transitions made my young mothers. People were again really interested and could relate the findings to their own work which was great.

May also saw the launch on Mumette Online which was set up by Emma Budd, as part of her final year university project. The website challenges stereotypes and presents news and information to mothers aged 18-25, in a non-patronising, intelligent and innovative way. Horaay!

On May 23rd Prymface turned 3 years old!

Meanwhile Allegra Stratton was misrepresenting a hard working young mum on BBCs Newsnight as a 'scrounger' resulting in a petition and public apology, I think you messed with the wrong young mum here!

June

On June the 27th, after about a weeks prep, we saw the first ever #youngmumschat on twitter!! We had seen the amazing twitter chats by StepsBoston and wanted a piece of it (that wasn't at 1am) so we set up our own UK version! Elle thought of the name and the rest is history. Me and Ruth hosted the first chat with much apprehension but were so overwhelmed with the response that we agreed it needed to be a weekly thing!

July

We had Elle and Kendall host the 2nd #youngmumschat, then we went for weekly themes with Week 3 all about sex education and for Week 4 we had Parents with Prospects hosting with an education theme.

July also saw the results on the DfEs consultation on raising the participation age. They didn't quite take all our recommendations on board but young mums did get a mention with regards to maternity leave, which hadn't previously been included in the proposed regulations...

"24 (36%) wanted young parents to be considered. It was suggested that maternity leave should be reflected in the new regulations and noted that RPA should be used as an opportunity to improve the education options and participation levels for young parents rather than limit them further."

"For young parents, local authorities will make decisions about a reasonable parental leave period on a case-by-case basis, based on individual circumstances and the provision on offer locally"


Further information also came about about the new CSA regulation which we submitted a very brief response to in April 2011, which included (if you looked hard enough) a exemption for under 18 in having to pay the fee to claim - Yay!!

"Applicants aged 18 and under will be exempt from the application fee. This vulnerable group should benefit from exemption from the application fee due to the increased financial and emotional pressures placed on them due to their age"


August

#youngmumschat continued and was made much easier to keep a record of after I was introduced to Storify by @youngdadstv!  Week 5 we covered improving support for young mums, Week 6 was health and well-being week, Week 7 was how to be smart with money, Week 8 was housing and relationships and Week 9 was back to school  (The topics are chosen by young mums each week and then young mums send their questions to me before the chat)

We also had an article in The Telegraph about teenage pregnancy where the comments were so rude about young mums it made me want to cuddle up all the young mums in the world and never let them out my sight!

September

We started to notice that, despite my instinct to protect young mums from outsiders(!), older mums were also really keen to join in the chat with young mums, and I thought this was great opportunity to turn the tables, so Week 10 #youngmumschat we took young mums questions for older mums!

Week 11 was then all about religion and belief, and Week 12 we had Simon Blake from Brook charity as a guest and fired questions at him for an hour, which he responded extremely well to!  Week 13 was then another guest chat with @Go4itprospects answering questions about the support they offer to young mums.

I was then contacted (Thanks Petra!) by The Telegraph who wanted me to start writing regularly for their new online women's section!  Well if that isn't the audience that we need to get to, to address misconceptions about young mums, then I don't know what is! Luckily I was 100% prepared for the responses!

October

3rd October saw my first story in the Telegraph Online - Which was basically my own life story - Out there for everyone to crisitize! (Oh Boy!)

My second post was then about how we should portray teen mums, after I went to see the amazing script in hand performance of Flesh, by Monkeywood Theatre in Manchester.

Young mum, Frances, also appeared in an article in the Guardian, based on the award winning blog, Her First Year, written by Len Grant.

#youngmumschats continued with Week 14 about accountability and co-parenting, Week 15 about the value of caring,
Week 16 (hosted by Elle again) about friends of young mums and Week 17 about mixed race relationships and children.

I was than asked by Brook if I knew any young mums who could feed into the Unplanned Pregnancy Inquiry, so I tweeted their questions in a survey and discussed them in week 18s #youngmumschat

November

In less than a week we managed to get over 80 young mums to fill in the questions for Brook which they could then use, along with the #youngmumschat, as part of their response to the Cross Party Inquiry into Unplanned Pregnancy.
Brook then invited me along to the parliamentary reception at the House of Lords where I met Amber Rudd MP and lots of other lovely people!

I also wrote an article about why teens really get pregnant for The Telegraph in an effort to convince their readers its not all about benefits and a free house!

#youngmumschat continued with Week 19 about PND with the amazing @Pandas_uk helping out. Week 20 was about labels and stigma, Week 21 was Acting your Age!, and Week 22 was Bigging up Young mums!

December

I wrote a slightly controversial post about whether teen mums can be feminists, and then a simple post about why I would personally rather stick pins in my eyes than be married(!), and then a post about how young mums can be excluded from universal services if we keep considering them as aliens, and to finish off the year a post on the top ten pros and cons of being a young mother!

#youngmumschat continued with Week 23 about Childrens Centres for @YoungDadsTV, Week 24 was a mixed bag week! And then Week 25 was about Festive holidays and potatoes (thanks Ruth!) which included an amazing giveaway from @RougeLioness

@YoungDadsTV were also involved in a brilliant report from Barnardos that identified the support that young dads need, and how they often get ignored.

But the most exciting thing ever was that I was contacted by Newsnight in relation to the Cross-party Inquiry into Unplanned Pregnancy. They wanted a young mum's view on their LIVE panel (following a report by Allegra Stratton! See May!) - I had visions of either freezing or fainting so opened the opportunity up to other young mums - Sorayah (AKA @_calendargirl) volunteered and was absolutely amazing - I was so proud of her and not even Jeremy Paxman (32.50) could argue with her when she said she's worked hard, wasn't a drain on anyone and didn't regret being a young mum!!  A True Star! (and thank you Simon Blake for looking after her!)




So 2012 has been huge for young mums! I have no idea what 2013 holds but I've really enjoyed getting to know so many new young mums through the twitter chats and seeing new support networks blossom! I hope one or two people have changed their views of young mums and I hope one or two young mums are feeling they no longer need to feel ashamed of being a young mums. Remember, if you want to share your story and have it published in a book for other young mums you can send it in to this project by the end of December!

Hayley's interview with Radio 4 should also be aired soon, and there is a new series of Pramface starting in January! I'm sure 2013 will be just a busy as 2012 - In the meantime I hope you're all able to have a well earned rest!!

Thank you everyone for all your support!

Have a Merry Christmas and Crazy New Year!
xxxx

P.s. If I've missed anything or anyone please let me know!