Award-winning Northampton project helps vulnerable families facing hardship

The Edge Award was won by Re:store Northampton, a town centre-based group which provides support, a food bank and other crisis services for families on the bread line. Pictured from left to right (top row) Julia Brammall, Claerwen Morgan, Lynn Nikel, Jodie Koffi, Hannah Osbourne and Kate Adams. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.
The Edge Award was won by Re:store Northampton, a town centre-based group which provides support, a food bank and other crisis services for families on the bread line. Pictured from left to right (top row) Julia Brammall, Claerwen Morgan, Lynn Nikel, Jodie Koffi, Hannah Osbourne and Kate Adams. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Cuts to Northamptonshire library services and children's centre provisions have left a void in many parents' routine.

But at Re:store Northampton a handful of award-winning staff and volunteers are providing a community drop-in, called Nest, for vulnerable families with babies and children up to the age of five.

Pictured, from left to right, Melodie Harrison-Isgar and Molly Bradley at Wednesday's playtime. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictured, from left to right, Melodie Harrison-Isgar and Molly Bradley at Wednesday's playtime. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

The project was given a £5,000 grant when it launched last year to support 30 families and in October it was awarded Northamptonshire Community Foundation's The Edge award.

Some attendees include families living in poverty, parents facing mental health problems and refugees and economic migrants who are isolated by language barriers.

Although it was not set up to directly replace children's centres - a health visitor pays a visit every Wednesday to give advice to new parents. Staff are hopeful for breastfeeding support next year too.

But the project is not just for the parents.

Samantha Bradley brings her baby Molly to play at the group every Wednesday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Samantha Bradley brings her baby Molly to play at the group every Wednesday. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

It hosts a free play session for tots, which includes music time and healthy snacks, in a bid to build healthy attachments between parents and their children.

Fundraising manager Alex Turtle said: "On a very basic level it is a leisure activity for local people but with its specific focus on vulnerable families.

"Bringing families together in a non-threatening, child-friendly atmosphere has built a sense of community and enhances what this town has to offer for young families.

"The balance of a strong voluntary team of positive role-models and families, who may not usually engage, ensures that it remains a safe and welcoming community space."

Mum Samantha pictured with her tot Aliya. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Mum Samantha pictured with her tot Aliya. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

Nest is also a member of a toy library meaning it can borrow different toys each month to use during the sessions.

Volunteer Bronwyn Isgar attends on Wednesdays with her baby Melodie and started going to the group after it was suggested to her by a friend.

She said: "From coming every week it's nice to meet the other parents, especially if their babies are the same age and we can catch up on what they have been doing in the week."

Nest began with a vision to reach out to vulnerable children and their parent or carers in Northampton in the same way as Re:store hub does with adults who have experienced a financial crisis or are in need of additional support.

The voluneers and staff who run Nest provide a community drop-in for pre-school families. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.

The voluneers and staff who run Nest provide a community drop-in for pre-school families. Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds.