Capacity - supporting children, families and communities

Delivering Change

Recruiting and training parent volunteers for Thurrock Children's Centres

Capacity has been commissioned to recruit and train parents as volunteers in Thurrock's five directly managed children's centres. The project marks a shift in direction for the children's centres towards greater partnership with parents but is also part of the children's centres offer of economic well-being and building community resilience.

Around twenty parents are being trained in the first year. Each is given a careful interview to analyse their aims in becoming a volunteer, their skills and aspirations, including job ambitions and the outcomes each individual hopes to achieve from the volunteer placement. The volunteer placement will be subsequently evaluated against "distance travelled" and how far their individual outcomes have been met.

There are four generic roles relating to different parts of the children's centres offer. Specific training is provided by staff as part of the placement, while an introductory course of twenty hours acts as an induction for new parents.

Still at an early stage, the project has already generated ideas and action for parent-led activities to promote help health and fitness and to help families on low incomes.

Learning in South Ockendon

South Ockendon Centre, formerly the site of a library, has opened as a new community hub to enable the residents of this Thurrock town to have a greater involvement in local Council services.

The centre is a pathfinder for a wider programme of community hub development across the borough

Capacity has been commissioned to work with the centre to research and develop a peer mentoring programme for residents undertaking courses of study and other learning opportunities.

Based on co-production principles, the initial stages involve consultation with local people about the types of learning which they regard as useful or importance and the identification of people who would be willing to share skills with others or to act as mentors.

Persistent evidence shows that people on low incomes are less likely to participate in adult learning and when they do, are more likely to drop out.

This project will attempt to address this through the development of mutual self-help among community members.

Places for Two Year Olds

From September 2013, Local Authorities will have a statutory duty to provide free early education to disadvantaged two-year-olds. In the lead up to this, there has been some concern whether enough childcare places can be found to meet this obligation.

In 2013, Capacity has been working to support the integration of a full daycare and a sessional nursery based at Start Point Sholing Children's Centre in Southampton.

This entailed a detailed analysis of attendance and analysis of current temporary and permanent staffing against the projected workload.

A new permanent graduated staffing structure was proposed to enable the nursery to operate more cost-effectively and to meet the demand for new places.

Families and Disability

FACT Bucks, short for Families and Carers Together in Buckinghamshire, is a group of parents and professionals who meet to discuss real issues that affect children and young people with additional needs and disabilities in Buckinghamshire.

FACT Bucks was set up to make sure families' views and concerns are heard by those who plan and manage the services.

Capacity has been working with FACT Bucks to support the committee of parents to undertake forward planning and to manage administration functions including budgets.

The aim is to help the committee to become confident in managing its affairs and in its function as a consultative and representative body.

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