Ten Essex-based innovators have been named finalists in the Families Included Prize - a competition run by Essex County Council in partnership with Nesta, the UKs innovation foundation, to help unearth new ideas to help tackle the issue of social isolation facing Essex families with young children.
Fifty ideas were entered from individuals, groups and organisations across Essex. The judging panel made up of parents, early years professionals and others who are in regular contact with Essex families met to whittle down these ideas to 10 finalists.
Each of the finalists will receive £1,500 in addition to support from a local support agency to test and develop their ideas further over the coming months.
In January, the finalists will present their developed ideas back to the judging panel when a winner will be selected and awarded £10,000 to take their idea forward.
Essex families have told us that they experience day to day pressures related to raising a young child and for some this can leave them feeling lonely or socially isolated.
Parents and carers we have talked to said that these feelings affect their confidence and leave them feeling less able or willing to access the support they want and need. This Prize aims to address this issue and encouraged applications from Essex based groups, organisations and individuals.
Cllr Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Children said: “It was a privilege to chair the judging panel and hear about the many great ideas that were submitted. The thing that struck my fellow judges and I, was the real enthusiasm and passion that entrants conveyed, along with a real understanding of the issues facing Essex families. I look forward to seeing how the 10 finalists progress their ideas over the coming months and meeting with them all in January when we identify the prize winner”.
The ten final ideas
- Mums and Families: A free support programme for mums who suffer with low levels of emotional wellbeing and are feeling overwhelmed with the challenges that being a parent can bring. The idea will enable mums to share their feelings and develop friendships with others who have similar experiences.
- Dance and Nutrition Programme: This project will explore the impact of dance paired with nutritional information.
- Home-Start Wellbeing Group – A weekly well-being group facilitated by a coordinator, where parents can meet and share issues.
- Moving Together for a Brighter Future – A new partnership to address issues around social and financial isolation, by building a network of outreach support and providing early intervention so that families have better opportunities for a brighter future.
- Mummy Buddies – An exciting and fun friendship and meet up service for parents to tackle isolation.
- Healthy Minds – Happy Families – 1:1 volunteer family support (emotional and practical) for mums-to-be and new mums at risk of developing or affected by perinatal mental health issues.
- Hug in a Box – volunteer peer support worker, wellbeing workshops, resource materials, and an online network and blog.
- Personal Proactive Parenting: This scheme will provide opportunities for parents of special needs children to meet, encourage and support each other. A model of promoting a 'buddying system' that fosters non-judgemental support. A safe and open environment that allows advise, skills and knowledge of local resources and strategies available to support the individual child.
- Fit4Mums and Family Exercise Classes: A scheme to enable Mums to continue the exercise sessions they have attended while pregnant after the birth of their baby. Those who already have a toddler would also be able to attend, providing the family with the opportunity to model exercise as a part of family life
- Craft 'n' Natter – A project to bring together parents of young disable children in a relaxed comfortable setting to participate in crafting actives.
Emily Jones, Essex Based Mum and Families Included Prize Judge said: “Loneliness can affect anyone – it’s something a lot of people looking after a young child experience but don’t like to talk about.
"When my hubby and our older kids left in the morning I would be alone all day with the baby. I didn’t have anywhere where I could go to meet people I could just have a chat with, let alone open up about anything I was struggling with. It takes a lot of guts to go out there and say you’re lonely, that being a parent is hard and that you need some adult conversation!
"And with all the pressure we put on ourselves to be the ‘perfect’ parent it can feel scary to admit that you’re struggling. That’s why it was so encouraging today to hear the ideas entrants have shared to do things a little differently, providing something that’s not currently available in the community.”
Constance Agyeman, Senior Programme Manager, Nesta and Families Included Prize Judge said: “Challenge prizes, like the Families Included Prize, open up innovation. It’s an opportunity for anyone with a bit of enthusiasm and a great idea to help solve a problem facing their community.
"It’s clear from the entries the Prize received that Essex is full of great ideas and we’re looking forward to seeing what our 10 finalists achieve.”