Local MPs, community groups, families and funders came together last night (19 May) to celebrate eight projects improving the lives of Lambeth families and young children.
The ceremony saw the projects receive Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) CoCreate Unique Innovation awards.
Set up in 2015 and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, LEAP is hosted by the National Children’s Bureau.
The partnership is made up of parents, early years practitioners, Lambeth council, nurseries, children’s centres, the National Children’s Bureau, NHS trusts, and local community organisations.
Its aim is to have a positive impact on diet and nutrition, social and emotional wellbeing, and communication and language outcomes for children aged 0-3.
LEAP’s CoCreate Fund helps organisations and groups to work with people using services and community members to develop initiatives to make a positive and lasting change to the lives of young children in the borough.
Brixton Wings’ young musicians kicked things off last night with a live performance which was followed by a video presentation of all the projects in action.
MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham) Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) and Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall), and Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, were among those presenting awards to community members responsible for bringing the projects to life.
Eight projects were each awarded £2,000 or £10,000 and were provided expert support by LEAP to create child-focused and community-led activities.
All were required to support children under four or benefit children by enabling their families and communities to thrive.
The projects were all created in partnership with service users or local people and focus on impact and the ability to gain future funding and contribute to learning in the early years sector.
Helen Hayes presented Julie Norburn of Art4Space with the Unique Innovation Award for empowering parents to take the lead.
She said: “Prioritising and cherishing the early years and trusting families to shape services has huge benefits for the community. As we learn what’s needed we build better relationships and can support each other for the benefit of all.”
Bell Ribeiro-Addy presented Caroline Burghard of Whippersnappers with her Unique Innovation Award and said: “These groups are to be congratulated for their willingness to listen, learn and adapt, ultimately providing services that really reflect what the community needs.”
Medg Sullivan, volunteer programme manager at Brixton Wings based in Brixton’s Angell Town, summed up some of wider benefits of the initiatives: “It looks like it’s just music lessons but it’s actually a wrap-around service for families who might not have resources like school, housing and immigration support,” she said.
Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall attended to congratulate the organisations and families and said: “Focusing on the youngest in Lambeth and providing a support network for families is crucial for knitting our community together from the very start.”
Laura McFarlane, director of LEAP, said: “We aim to improve the life chances of babies and very young children by changing the way services are commissioned and delivered, involving parents as equal partners.
“Our CoCreate Fund emphasises that knowledge from lived experience is as valuable as professional experience, and works to bring these two arenas together.”