Since September 2021, we have been delighted to be able to offer a free weekly outdoor playgroup for the local community. This was made possible thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery Community Fund’s ‘Local Connections Fund’. The fund was created to help small charities and community groups working to reduce loneliness by building community connections across England.
During the pandemic many groups of the community have struggled with feelings of isolation, particularly those with young families and their support networks. Over the past 12 weeks we have welcomed over 40 children and their families to our playgroup, providing a safe space for the children to connect in nature, explore and, importantly, for the adults to have a hot cup of tea!
One of our parent participants shared their experience with us:
‘I’m from Nicaragua originally but I’ve been living in the UK for the last 10 years, and in Birmingham for the last nine years. The project has been a lifeline. Because I’m from abroad, my family doesn’t live here so I’m really by myself with my two girls. It has meant getting out seeing people and not feeling lonely really! It’s been amazing.
I’ve learned about nature and also about having more of a child’s mentality, being more free and letting my children explore with more freedom, not being behind them all the time but letting them explore on their own. Learning about what different things are called and reliving my childhood – so quite a lot really!’
Through this project we were hoping to not only connect to those with young children, but also to create a wider community connection. We were able to recruit a fantastic volunteer, who helped bring an intergenerational aspect to the group, and strengthened these relationships in the community. Mary, who lives locally, shared her thoughts on how wonderful it is to see children playing in nature:
‘I see the kids’ happy faces when they play about running in the woods, playing with the normal things instead of on computers or in front of the TV. It’s lovely.’
While our sessions are nearly at an end, we hope that our families will be able to build on the connections they have made, and keep the community spirit alive.