One of the hardest things for struggling families, which forms part of the research for Bradford Council’s Anti-Poverty Strategy, is being unable to take their children on enjoyable day trips out, or even just spend stress-free time together, away from the worries of daily life.
Enable2, spoke to Cath Ormerod, Hub Manager at Stronger Families, about the families they work with in the programme:
“Stronger Families supports families from some of the most deprived communities across Leeds and Bradford. We want to achieve a change in families…not simply in monetary terms, but in confidence, wider social networks and improved health and wellbeing. What came out during the parent consultations with Bradford Council was the difficulties of living on a low income and the stresses of not being able to provide days out for their children, alongside worries about food poverty and day-to-day living costs.”
Enable2 saw an opportunity to engage parents from the Stronger Families programme in a way that would help them get out locally, visit places and play with their children in a low-cost way, with help from Get Out More CIC; an organisation who has already worked with Enable2 on other social return projects.
Get Out More CIC, a social enterprise to help people engage with nature to feel better in mind and body, were funded to run two family play sessions in Bradford’s Bowling Park for nine parents and their 17 children on the Stronger Families programme. Annie Berrington, Managing Director of Get Out More, led the sessions, to help families gain fresh ideas for outdoor play and enjoy spending time together.
The sessions included:
- a campfire, with toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate in the woodland area of the park
- traditional outdoor play, such as hide and seek and playing on swings
- fun, warm-up games to help get to know each other
- family challenges (building freestanding towers and waterproof dens) to encourage parents and children to work together
- break for a picnic lunch
The sessions enabled the families to connect with each other, as well as have fun and play with their children. They swapped contact numbers and planned to meet up again. They expressed delight that their children were better behaved outside, with the space and freedom to let off steam.
Cath Ormerod said:
“We asked our parents what they had enjoyed about the day and they told us that they had loved having family time. One parent said it would give her little girl something to talk about when she went back to school. One said, “I enjoyed my children having a laugh,’’ which sums it up. It was good to see the families bonding over the activities and making new friendships. They talked about being more aware of things to do in the park, beyond the swings and slides. Many of the children asked if they could come back next week and families asked if we knew of other days like this that they could go to - Annie signposted them to a further session, part of Get Out More’s work for Better Start Bradford. We discussed the wellbeing aspect of being outdoors, such as play making us happy and removing everyday stresses and tensions that can mount up inside and both groups left smiling and very thankful for a fun day out in the sunshine. One of the most rewarding parts of the day was the social connections that families made and the lasting impact on social isolation and mental wellbeing.”
When the children were asked what they enjoyed most about the day, they said:
“Fire and marshmallows.”
‘’New friends, making fires and the great outdoors’’
‘’Family day out, meeting new people, having fun.’’
Cath at Stronger Families said, “What can seem a small step for some families makes positive and lasting change. This was a great opportunity for connecting with nature and each other. Thanks to Enable 2 for funding this initiative.”