Starcatchers’ Wee People, Big Feelings experience comes to Helensburgh nurseries

1 July 2024

Over the next two years Starcatchers will be working with local nurseries in Helensburgh, to deliver Wee People, Big Feelings, an emotional literacy training programme for early years practitioners. 

Starcatchers’ Wee People, Big Feelings project, was initially developed to support forces families with wee ones from two years old to age five, with support from the Ministry of Defence. Now, the project will be reimagined for Helensburgh’s Naval families, locally and in surrounding areas.

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has funded Argyll and Bute Council and Starcatchers to work in partnership to offer training opportunities to the early years workforce who work with Naval families, stationed at HM Naval Base Clyde. The training programme includes mentoring sessions in four local nurseries with Starcatchers Artists working directly with the staff and little ones. 

Heather Armstrong, Head of Early Years Development at Starcatchers says: 

Babies and young children can be affected by changes in their world just as much as adults, but they don’t always have the words to express how they feel. That’s how the name of this project – Wee People, Big Feelings – came about. Starcatchers recognises that Naval families all experience deployment differently, so we’re developing Wee People, Big Feelings for the wee ones in Helensburgh and surrounding areas. All the original project’s learning was developed by Starcatchers artist-in-residence Skye Reynolds, the wee ones, and the staff team at Scots Corner. We recognised that moving and imagining together helped wee ones develop emotional literacy skills, like tuning into their own bodies and safely expressing strong or overwhelming feelings. 

Starcatchers’ Early Years Development Manager, Amy Hall-Gibson says:

By the end of the two years, we want the community to be full of early years staff who understand the challenges of deployment and know how to support families with wee ones, and we want to make sure Naval families have lots of fun, creative ways to play together that help with emotional literacy. We also want to make sure we’re talking to families as we develop resources, to make sure what we create is accessible and helpful.

Argyll & Bute Council’s Early Years Development Officer, Ailsa Dominick says:

Argyll and Bute’s Early Years are delighted to be working with Starcatchers to develop ELC practitioners’ emotional literacy skills. The training and mentoring sessions will be focussed on the particular needs of naval families, with a specific focus on how to support each stage of the emotional cycle of deployment therefore enhancing the quality of ELC for families across the area.

Early Years Practitioner and Forces Family member says:

Every forces family is different, and every deployment is different: sometimes we cope well with the transitions, and sometimes it can bring a lot of challenges. There’s no one size fits all approach, it’s important we develop a repertoire of techniques to support wee ones and their families.