Leeds and Wakefield: Teenage mums in plea for help

WROTE TO THE PM: Robyn Brownless with her children Sonny and Charley.

WROTE TO THE PM: Robyn Brownless with her children Sonny and Charley.

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A group of young mums is trying to raise awareness about the issues teenage parents face.

The teen pregnancy rate in England and Wales at its lowest since 1969 and it’s a similar story in Wakefield.

In 2007, the rate was 56 per 1,000 girls aged under 18, higher than the averages for both Yorkshire and the whole country.

Now the number of under 16s who become pregnant has gone from the highest in West Yorkshire to among the lowest.

But earlier this month it emerged that funding for young people’s services had been slashed by nearly 60 per cent in parts of Yorkshire.

Budget figures revealed that council spending on services such as Connexions advice centres, youth work and teenage pregnancy support has plummeted by nearly a third overall in real terms across the region since 2010-11.

Services like Barnardo’s Young Families, which supports pregnant teenagers and young parents in their own communities across the Wakefield district, are likely to be in greater demand and under growing pressure.

The group meets once a month and produces a quarterly newsletter sent out to parents and includes advice on everything from how to cope with poorly children to dealing with debt.

They met shadow chancellor Ed Balls and his wife, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, who is attending a Young Families event in Castleford on Friday.

The advisory group’s chairwoman Robyn Brownless has also written to Prime Minister David Cameron, inviting him to meet them to discuss the challenges young mothers face.

Robyn, 21, from Pontefract, has two children, Sonny, four, and Charley, two.

She said. “I just didn’t know much. I was pregnant but I didn’t know what was taking place inside of me and what was going to happen afterwards. I didn’t know anything.

“If you’re 16 or 17, you’ve probably never had to pay bills before, you’ve never had to budget money and you need to be taught. Luckily Barnardo’s has been there to support us and help educate us as well as offer advice.”

Robyn looked into doing an Open University course but couldn’t afford the fees but is now hoping to start a nursing and midwifery course next year.

Meeting MPs will help. Robyn said: “Hopefully when they go to Parliament they remember us and know what our needs are and what we struggle with and that way they will be able make a change.”