Botley Bridges Annual Report to Funders and Service Users
This was the third year Botley Bridges provided services for families with children in the Botley, Cumnor, West Oxford and North Hinksey area. The charity was established when universal children’s support services were closed as part of the County Council cuts. Income has come from a variety of grants and donations without which Botley Bridges could not continue and the trustees are very grateful for this financial support. Local County Councillors and both North Hinksey and Cumnor Parish Council have both made grants (please note the North Hinksey Parish Council grant just fell out of this accounting period), our financial year runs from October to October.
Botley Bridges provides support to families with the aim of
- Supporting learning for young children
- Preventing isolation of new parents and parents with young children
- Helping parents and children to maintain good mental health
- Creating a strong local community and reducing barriers to access
- Supporting families in acquiring skills which help create strong families
- Providing information to parents about other organisations which support families.
Services provided October 2018 – October 2019
Open Access Play and Learn sessions
These run 3 times a week and once monthly on a Saturday with 1 session focusing on babies and their parents. On average 35 families access these sessions weekly but they do not always come every week. Over 250 families have accessed sessions over the year – some more frequently than others. There are many outcomes from the sessions.
Parents and carers gain information on how to support their young child’s learning and development whilst making connections with other families and improving their own well being. We all recognise that having a family can be an exhausting and sometimes an extremely hard job and support from others in the community and from other services can make a big difference. Botley Bridges signposts families to other services and information that may be able to support them in relation to specific issues. The paid co-ordinator and casual staff and volunteers are all trained in early years and are able to support families with a variety of issues from domestic abuse to speech and language difficulties.
We meet many families with English as a second language and being part of the community is vital for these families whose wider families are not local.
Hayley – the Botley Bridges co-ordinator also supports the weekly baby health drop in, working alongside the health visitors, as this provides a usual point of contact with new families in the area.
“I currently use stay and play sessions and occasionally Saturdads. I have used Botley Bridges since it started and it has proved invaluable for my mental health, providing a safe place where you leave in a better frame of mind and having enjoyed your child rather than struggle on your own. Absolutely worth its weight in gold!”
“Stay and play sessions – the best resources for 0-4 years especially toddlers. Warm and kind environment. The volunteers and staff who run this group are helpful in general with all raising children issues! i.e. toileting training, naps, food etc. That extra support goes beyond fun playgroup as well.”
“I just wanted to say how valuable the Friday afternoon baby group was to me while I was on maternity leave. It was a lovely place to come and meet other mothers and talk about all things baby, but also to have some really special time with my son while he was tiny. And I have a number of homemade toys that I made at the sessions! I also did the first aid course that was run here – so helpful not to have to find childcare in order to attend, and definitely the best and most useful first aid training I’ve ever done.“
Over 250 families have accessed sessions over the year
On average 35 families access stay and play sessions weekly
Adults accessed courses over the year
Family Links Nurturing Programmes
We ran 2 Family Links Nurturing Programmes (10 and 4 weeks long) and 22 parents came to these sessions. Both were run in the evenings to make them accessible and although parents were asked to contribute to the costs of materials the sessions were subsidised or free for those that could not afford to pay. Children and families also financially supported some families to attend the sessions. Feedback from both the courses was really positive.
“I attended the Family Links 4 weeks course in the summer. Invaluable tips and info that I keep referring back to. Good value for money with friendly staff/teachers.”
Paediatric first aid courses
Botley Bridges also co-ordinates and advertises paediatric first aid courses for parents and carers of young children. This year 40 families attended 4 workshops. The workshops are very popular and really give parents reassurance about what to do when accidents happen.
Summer Fun in the Parks
Our Summer Fun in the Parks session ran again in the Summer of 2019 with 84 families attending the park sessions. The aim of these sessions is to provide fun and educational activities in the local parks around the area. Some families discover a park they had never been to before and the location means that families with older children are catered for. We visited Botley Park, Oatlands Park, Arnolds Way Park, Cumnor Park and Dean Court Recreation ground.
“I attended events on Monday/ Wednesday/Friday in the holiday programme when I was able to. It was great to have events in local parks and the diverse range of activities were all motivating and fun for adults and kids alike. I am particularly pleased with the fish I decorated last Monday! Thank you for running these and I am looking forward to coming back on Friday of half term.”
“I attended stay and play sessions with all three children throughout the holidays. I found it fantastic for older ones to do arts and crafts while baby
crawled around the place. Great place to come with fantastic facilities for varied ages and very helpful and welcoming staff“
Family Learning Courses
In addition Botley Bridges teams up with Abingdon and Witney College Family Learning team to run a number of family learning courses. Staff and volunteers of Botley Bridges support the course by looking after children so that parents can attend these free courses.
8 families came to the English language classes and 6 attended all 15 sessions. The sessions focus on everyday English and helping parents to support their children.
This was followed up with 4 sessions on helping children with maths and 5 parents came along to these.
“I started to use Botley Bridges from the first moment I arrived to UK. From the beginning it was the most supportive place for me, to meet other mothers, for not to be isolated without family support, my support to cope with a special needs child’s problems and another family problem. I did a lot of courses for free at Botley Bridges, English courses, First Aid courses, Maths courses and 3 very helpful parenting courses. Currently I am attending English course on Thursday and I also volunteer twice a week for Botley Bridges in stay and play sessions to help mothers in the same situation that I was when I arrived here. For me, Botley Bridges is not only my support, it is the support for all the community in Botley, Oxford.”