A spring in our step
2017 is flying by and I can’t believe March is here already with Easter just around the corner! We have had a busy and exciting start to the year: in January we welcomed Becky and Gail, managers in the Early Years nursery and pre-school and upstairs in our café, respectively. They join Heidi, our Family Support Team manager; Anna, our Admin Team Leader and Lou Galloway, Contact Centre coordinator and Claire Frowd, finance officer, as part of the team helping me run the Centre. We have also welcomed many new children to the centre at our various groups and in our nursery. We welcome everyone and wish them well in their new ventures with us!
At the end of January we hosted our annual achievements evening at which the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant’s office were both present. Sir Andrew McFarlane, our patron, supported the evening by presenting certificates and awards – of which there were plenty! Thanks to trustees, staff, volunteers and friends who came and also to Gail and her team at Oscar’s for providing an excellent spread on the night.
Recently there has been a real sense of energy and passion as we approach spring: lots of hard work, enthusiasm and passion whilst at the same time making new staff feel welcome and a part of the HOPE team. Everyone has been really positive and demonstrated oodles of enthusiasm which is lovely to see and experience!
The first few months of the year have seen many new initiatives come to fruition in all departments: in Family Support new groups have been introduced and others redesigned with future plans to include outreach projects in Bromyard and expansion into other areas of the reach area.
The café and other departments are also making new plans and new ventures including plans for a new permanent play zone upstairs in response to local demand. Behind the scenes at the café the introduction of new suppliers that mean we are now using 95% organic veg provided by a local supplier and Gail, our café manager, is also an expert in felt making and will soon be offering courses. Please sign up if you are interested.
In the nursery and pre-school an enormous amount of work has taken place and we’re really proud of the results which have had the seal of approval from our Early Years contacts at the local authority on a recent visit. My thanks go to all those who have made this possible. It is lovely to see how the children are enjoying the newly created areas in our pre-school and also to see our youngest children in Ladybirds and Caterpillars rooms developing skills in the newly created areas they now have.
The smooth running of the charity and services we offer relies on us keeping abreast of IT and developments. So it is that we have upgraded our Broadband service (that not only helps us but also our customers who access the free WiFi) and we have also updated our hardware and software as part of our LSF sustainability funding. Our new database is also due to go live shortly which will be of enormous benefit to the organisation in evaluating the services we offer and also enabling us to work more efficiently.
Just a quick heads up for future events: in April we will again be taking part in the Speed Festival running the Lost Child facility. Current plans are progressing well and the organisers have told us we will be situated in the Food For All shop in town and plans are already underway. I look forward to writing again in the next newsletter where I will be reporting on our Fashion Fundraising event that is taking place in May. This event is being held at the Centre in conjunction with Sue Meredith whose fashions will be modelled on the night and also available to purchase. We hope that as many of you will attend as possible and help support us in our fundraising for the centre.
On a final note, our charity relies heavily on funding (grants, donations etc) and the goodwill of many who use our facilities here. I would like to thank the Bromyard Choral Society, the Bromyard Relief in Need and the Bromyard Christmas Tree Festival for their recent financial support and to all those who came to the Early Years Christmas Fair.
– Sarah Eardley, CEO, email@example.com
Early Years at HOPE
I’m delighted to have had such a warm welcome from the staff, parents and community since joining HOPE as the Early Years Manager in January. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the children and their families and have had full support in establishing continuity and high quality teaching and learning at HOPE Early Years. I’m so proud of the team that are working so hard in providing fantastic experiences for every child and I’m excited about enhancing the Nursery and Pre-school further.
The Ladybirds have introduced Baby Bounce and Rhyme time into their daily routine. These short sessions incorporate songs, rhymes, stories and sensory elements that encourage early language and communication, listening and attention, and social skill. The impact of the session has been positive; the children enjoy copying the actions, sounds and interacting with the resources.
Work to the baby garden will be starting soon. The new plans have astroturf almost completely covering the space to create a more enabling outdoor environment, and will be the first phase of the new design. We’re in the process of applying for some funding for a re-design of the toddler and preschool gardens. Any donations of flowers, plants and child-friendly outdoor equipment would be warmly received.
Local Authority Visit
It’s been a pleasure networking with outside agencies and establishing positive relationships in order to sustain multi-agency working. I’m pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received recently from the Council and grateful for their support.
– Becky Cox, Early Years Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOPE Contact Centre
The Contact Centre continues to be busy, and following a successful recruitment drive, we now have a bank of contact workers who supervise and record sessions.
At the beginning of February I attended training run by the accrediting body, NACCC, which was a great opportunity to meet other supervised contact centre coordinators. Held in Derby, the two days of training ensures that our service remains compliant and in line with current best practice.
Our Contact Centre welcomes referrals from legal and private customers. We encourage all families to visit the centre for a pre-visit so that everyone is familiar with the surroundings before the sessions begin. Our families come from far and wide and are not just local to Herefordshire. We recently conducted our first pre-visit via Skype which enabled a parent to view our centre and facilities remotely.
We’re always keen to welcome new families to the centre and offer great on site facilities and resources for the children to entertain themselves. Please contact me if you would like any further information.
– Louise Galloway, Contact Centre Coordinator, email@example.com
Behind the scenes at HOPE
Last year we obtained our first ISO award. ISO develop and publish International Standards and we were really proud to have met their high standards. We are continuing to ensure that we meet those standards following our initial assessment. This is a sizeable piece of work and is ongoing, with our first 6 monthly audit taking place in June.
We’re making our reception area more professional and welcoming to visitors. This involves not only reorganisation of furniture but also an overhaul of our signs, notice boards and flyers to ensure that reception is the hub of information at HOPE.
We’re looking forward to welcoming Mickey back to the team in mid-March after her maternity leave and along with Becky, Carys and myself we make up the Admin/HR Department.
– Anna Beddows, Admin Team leader/H&S/HR Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meal deals at Oscar’s Café
Oscar’s Café, managed by Gail Harding and assisted by Michaela and Hannah, serves excellent food using 95% organic vegetables from Skylark Organics.
Oscar’s has started to offer an over 60’s meal deal on Wednesdays: a dinner and pudding for £5.00 between 12.30 & 2.00pm.
We’re also pleased to announce the opening of a child-friendly soft play zone in the café.
Oscar’s are also starting to offer a variety of courses beginning with an Introduction To Felt Making. If you’d like any information call and ask to speak with Gail or drop in to the café, have a coffee and see what’s going on.
– Gail Harding, Manager, Oscar’s Café, email@example.com
News from Supporting Families
The Family Support team continues to be busy supporting families on both an outreach basis and within the centre. Kayley Seymour, our new Family Support worker, has settled in well and has been doing a fantastic job after taking over the planning and delivery of our Groups and activities within the centre.
Our Bumps to Babies group on a Thursday, that runs alongside the health visiting team, continues to be well attended and provides a warm, welcoming environment for parents and carers. Our Messy Play group, on Fridays, continues to be popular with families who can come along and enjoy painting, arts and crafts, food play and a whole host of activities that are beneficial for children’s learning and development.
We introduced some sensory play sessions, Sensory Stars and Sensory Babies, to promote the use of our sensory room. Although these sessions are unstaffed parents and carers have reported that they have enjoyed spending time making use of the lovely facilities and meeting other parents and carers in a calm and relaxing environment. The Sensory room offers a range of sensory experiences for young babies and children and the sessions will continue to be offered into the new term.
We are currently reviewing the existing services that we provide across our Children’s Centre reach area for the children and families we work with and we are hoping to make some key changes to what’s currently offered by the team. This means that you’ll see more of us out and about in the community, which will enable us to meet more children and families who will be able to benefit from the services we deliver.
Baby Massage and Yoga is really beneficial for both mothers and babies, helping to promote special time and communication with your baby and to meet early developmental needs through movement, touch, sight and sound. We’ve been working with Sian Barclay, who has been running Baby Massage and Baby Yoga at the Centre. These courses have been very well attended and we have received some really positive feedback from the parents and carers who have come along. We will continue to run both courses in to the new term and you can book your place by contacting Sian Barclay: 07919 372555 / firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with a pilot programme called the Interactables, which is a 6 week course run in partnership with Brightstripe: a vibrant Community Interest Company specialising in enhancing people’s wellbeing by encouraging participation in arts, sports and physical activity. This has been a fun programme to be involved in and has aimed to provide parents and carers with a bank of ever-ready, low-cost play ideas to do at home. We are hoping to work with Brightstripe again in the future.
We are very much looking forward to the coming months where we will be able to tell you more about the work that’s currently going on behind the scenes and how this will benefit the families and children who use our services.
– Heidi Mulholland, Family Support Team Coordinator, email@example.com