Updated: Nov 22, 2021
When I first moved here with my family, including two school-age children, I remember feeling very overwhelmed. I didn't know where anything was, I had no friends, and I didn't speak the language. I remember feeling grateful that at least I had the days when my kids were in school to figure it all out!
Of course, this is not the case for parents of young children like Amanda Potter, the Co-Chair of Basel Children's Trust (BCT for short). Amanda moved to Basel in September 2019 with her two year-old daughter and a baby on the way. Thankfully, she found a BCT playgroup within her first few weeks in Basel and has been part of that community ever since.
What is Basel Children's Trust (BCT)?
BCT was founded in 1992 with the aim of providing "community, support, and information to expectant parents and families with young children, living in the Basel area: from 'bump' to 'babe' and 'beyond'." It is an entirely volunteer run Verein (Swiss lingo for a non-profit association), which started with 29 members and now supports over 100 families from around the globe who share English as a common language. While the English language may be the common connection, BCT members hail from across the globe from places like the US to France to India and Australia. And, of course, BCT welcomes Swiss families too.
BCT offers a variety of services which include:
weekly and neighbourhood playgroups for parents and children ages 0-5
monthly workshops on topics like local schooling, bilingualism and emotional development
special events including seasonal favorites such as an Easter egg hunt and Halloween party.
In addition, it offers its members a monthly newsletter, is active on social media and will be launching a blog in the coming months. Currently, much of the programming is geared towards expecting parents and children through to age 5, but many of its offerings would be helpful for any age and BCT hopes to expand programming to include older ages as well. As Amanda explains, "There is something for all families at BCT. It's not just for newcomers, or native English speakers or young families. Even if you do not have young children, you can still participate as a volunteer."
Why You Should Get Involved
Amanda's story of how she connected to BCT is inspiring and it made me think about that famous Beatles lyric, "I get by with a little help from my friends." After she first joined, Amanda found that as she went back to the playgroup week after week and it became an important part of her family's routine, helping her grow her community. In those first few weeks at BCT she met some of her closest friends. It is because of this connection that she decided volunteer and become Co-Chair of BCT. Since joining, she's found that is has been a great way to learn about how things work in Basel, about the families who come here and on a deeper level, this helps to bring a greater sense of purpose to her life.
How To Get Involved
While you can attend BCT playgroups or events without joining, purchasing a membership is a great way to show your support for this organization as well as get discounts on its offerings. Best of all you will become part of this strong and supportive community. Memberships are CHF 99 for a full year or CHF 55 for 6 months.
Volunteers are also greatly appreciated and include positions like:
Ongoing program positions like playgroup leaders, events management or newsletter team.
Special events like library readings or seasonal events.
Currently, BCT is looking for a Membership Secretary (welcoming and connecting new members), BCT Secretary (in an administrative capacity) and Special Event Coordinator. Anyone interested can contact Amanda directly by email.
I asked Amanda whether she has any advice for someone who is looking to become more involved in the Basel community and she shared some sage wisdom: "Give things a chance, more than one try. Keep showing up. Don't be afraid to ask for help - and be the person that helps too."
Images courtesy of Basel Children's Trust.