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In response to the Children’s Commissioner paper on Family Hubs

In response to a report published by Children England on the combined long-term effects of Youth Sector Cuts (UNISON report here) and the new implementation of Family Hubs, which will integrate the current services provided by Children’s Centres to provide more family-wide and holistic support for parents and children regardless of age (Children’s Commissioner’s discussion paper here); Creative Futures has a word to say.

Creative Futures, a multi-arts charity specialising in targeted Early Years programmes in areas of multiple deprivation, is working with pre-school age children through nurseries (e.g. ‘Music for Change’ project report here) and with families through a range of initiative devised to engage hard to reach families in pre-school activity, stimulate learning and early childhood development, and provide parents and carers with support, opportunities and positive networks. Our collaborations in north Westminster with the Children’s Centre and other local charities e.g. Paddington Development Trust, are providing safe and nurturing first access opportunities for families with young children.

Here are some examples of our local projects that are doing just that:

Queen’s Park Families

Queen’s Park Families is a free community-led drop-in that has been running since 2014 set up as an initiative to tackle the lack of provision for family with young children in the area.

Every Wednesday morning 40-50 children and their parents and carers meet for free play, singing, informal chats and socialising over tea and cake. The project brings together local families with young children to create peer support networks and foster a sense of community, whilst also enhancing parent-child bonding through creative activities with babies and children. The sessions are supported by volunteers from Paddington Development Trust’s ‘Maternity Champions’ programme, and are free for families. Sessions take place all year round, every Wednesday morning from 9:30 - 12:00 at St Jude's Hal, 67 Ilbert Street, W10 4QL.

Westbourne Families

Westbourne Families is a new pilot project, replicating the highly successful Queen's Park Families model, in Westbourne Ward, where the Children's Centre has recently closed. It is being run in collaboration with Community Champions from PDT and takes place every Tuesday morning from 10:00-12:00 at Warwick Community Hall, 300 Harrow Road, W2 5HG.

Baby and Me and Mums to Be

This new programme is a collaboration again with Maternity Champions from PDT and with Children’s Services: it takes place in Queen’s Park Children’s Centre and is specifically aimed at mothers and babies under 6 months old, to fill a gap in provision and to nurture parents and babies at a crucial and often isolating time.

The free weekly drop-in includes health and nutritional advice, breastfeeding support, baby yoga, and creative activities, as well as opportunities for new parents to make new friends and connections with other new mothers in the local community. The project is supported with funding from the Big Lottery Awards for All programme, and takes place every Monday morning from 10:00-12:00 at Queen’s Park Children’s Centre, 88 Bravington Road, London W9 3AL.

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