A guest blog by Heather Black, Development Officer, Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland
For the past three years I’ve been involved in developing Hope4Summer – a project that brings together churches and community groups in different locations across Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland. Hope4Summer offers fun activities and healthy food for children during the summer holidays, because we know that for many local families the summer break is a struggle with children at home 24/7 and no free school meals.
It has been excellent to see how the project has developed, and this year we were delighted to be working with community centres and schools where there is no suitable church building. We have also been working to strengthen the links between this grass-root, volunteer-led project and the work of other agencies. We recognise that sometimes the children and families who are facing significant challenges don’t always get involved with things in their community that can really make a difference. MVDA has been working with us helping to make the link between this community based support initiative and statutory services, enabling practitioners to be aware of the kind of activities taking place in local communities that will benefit the families they are supporting.
We recently brought together everyone who was involved in this work to reflect on the difference that Hope4Summer had made for local families, which included:
Learning about the children and families worked with
- Hope4Summer is needed by families as a whole, not just the children
- Adults also need the opportunity to come together to socialise and be supported
- Providing safe spaces to build trust so that anxieties, needs and concerns could be shared.
The difference that Hope4Summer made (thinking about their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs)
- Happy children
- Built up a store of good memories and stories
- Children able to learn good habits eg. eating; behaviour
- Giving structure to their lives and positive activities
- A sense of belonging
- Providing comfort and emotional support
- Over time expectations and habits have changed.
For further information about what was planned for Hope4Summer 2016, click here.
Contact Heather Black on 07446 908451 or email: Heather.Black@togethermc.org
You might also be interested in an event that is jointly being organised by MVDA with Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland, taking place on 26 January 2017, 9.30am at The Trinity Centre, North Ormesby: Believe in families: the role of faith communities in early help for children and families