Discover and Share – Enfield Voluntary Action 

Community centres might be closing but what can CVS's do to support vulnerable people relying on these services?
Changes in the Children’s Centre structure and funding have brought uncertainty in the early years’ sector and many community venues have closed. These centres are often a lifeline for vulnerable families and evidence shows that early years support can make a huge difference to childhood development. Enfield Voluntary Action (EVA) anticipated the devastating impact that closures would have in Enfield and developed a pilot project to support local families.

About the project

Discover and Share was funded by Tudor Trust and developed to support isolated young parents and carers in Enfield.  From 2015 to 2017, 51 participants attended the weekly ‘Play & Stay’ workshops held in 6 different venues across the borough.

EVA along with community partners conducted extended research & development (R&D) phase prior to the delivery of this project (2010-2015) where they focused on different models of delivery to engage with young parents. The impact of this R&D was evidenced through the successful retention rate of participants – an impressive 99%.

The nature of a pilot project meant that timescales and activity did need to be altered during the course of the project, but this challenge was helped by a supportive funder Tudor Trust who were able to be flexible and could understand the issue involved.

The project demonstrated the importance of a person-centred approach and the development of social capital that formed from the group work.

Learning to share

During the workshops, participants were trained to take on the leadership of the group, once the learning and support phase ended. This ensured sustainability for the project across the different venues.

“I’m so excited to learn new skills to be a good parent and practitioner”

Many of the young parents & carers who participated in the project have gone on to take up further training, employment and volunteering opportunities in part to the skills and confidence they have gained through this community process.

“I can take on more voluntary work as I am getting skilled in what I need to do”

Impact and sustainability

Due to the success of the pilot programme, EVA was awarded over £388,000 by the Big Lottery Fund to expand the programme to provide workshops over 4 years (2018 – 2021) for up to 140 isolated parents of young children who want to develop skills, confidence and community relationships.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment learning all about safeguarding, play work, managing funds and emotional development”

Course participants are now awarded accreditation in Facilitating Stay and Play Leadership (Level 2 & 3).

The personal friendships that bond the network together are also crucial to the success of the project. These friendships were developed through the confidence-building workshops, regular weekly contact at the group and shared experiences generated by the project activity.

To find out more information please visit Enfield voluntary action’s website.  

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