Story by Kate Proctor. Photos by Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children.
The largest ever family fun-day to support parents with their toddlers and babies in North Sheffield has been hailed a success by organisers.
Almost 200 children and their families attended Firth Park for arts and crafts, cape making, circus skills and story-telling while parents could pick up advice from professionals on healthcare, oral health, infant feeding and further education courses.
The event held on 14th July was designed specifically for families with children age 0 – 5-years-old by the Sheffield Early Learning Community, which is supported by charity Save The Children.
Kelly, who came to the event with partner Richard and their three children, said:
“It’s about family time and getting out in the outdoors and fresh air after being so couped up after Covid. My twins George and Charlie love to explore and I don’t think they knew there were other people out there until they were a year old!
“There were also resources there to help and I picked up a leaflet on a childcare course.”
Brittany, 23, mum of two-year-old Aleyiah-Rose, said:
“It’s really good for kids to get a day out, do different things and play with new people. I’m quite reserved myself but it has been nice to talk to other mums and say hello. This has been free too, and it costs a lot doing things with kids these days – at some places as a parent you’re just paying a £1 to sit down.”
Leanna Clark, Deputy Childcare Services Manager at Meadows Nursery in Shirecliffe which is part of Sheffield Early Learning Community said:
“This has been a great success for the first event, with a great turnout and it was a fun and creative day, as well as a chance for parents to get support from various professionals.
“From the parents I see everyday they have told us they want more fun events but information on services too.
“We’ve also been able to network. One parent asked if we’d go to their mosque to do things about school places and readiness. Events like this bring people together and there are so many people who came today we had never met before so there was a real sense of community.”
Rhianna, 21, from Longley, who is part of the parents group attached to The Meadows Nursery, came along to the family fun-day with her daughter Kyah, nine months. She has recently been part of a consultation the Sheffield Early Learning Community ran with parents on what more support they’d like in the area – and they settled on a breakfast club. She said:
“Before joining the parents group I was quite anxious around other people and now we have got somewhere to go and meet new people. I didn’t have a clue who they were before and now we’re always chatting!
“From that we now run a breakfast club – my mum does the cooking – and there I’ve made friends, felt less isolated. No-one’s judging you there.”
Woollen weaving work that Rhianna and other local parents did with artist Carmel Page during one of the consultation workshops formed part of the artwork on display in the park, as well as posters spelling out ‘DREAM’ created with children from local schools by artist and Roma eduator Rosa Cisneros.
Rosa, who has done a number of creative projects in Page Hall in the last few years, said:
“The work we co-created is about dreaming and hope. It’s about feeling that you have something to say and you could be listened to. To have their work on display – it helps them feel valued and seen.”
Catherine Mercer, who works for charity Save The Children and leads the Sheffield Early Learning Community, said:
“The event was the culmination of a year of work supported by Save The Children in North Sheffield and other partners. It’s been wonderful to see so many families come along today to play and enjoy themselves and find out more information about what help is available in their area.
“It’s also nice to celebrate such a vibrant part of the city which has such a strong sense of community, and connect even more families in the process.”
The event was also supported by the First Start Family Centre in Firth Park and organised by the community charity SOAR, and opened by Dawn Dale, Labour councillor for Shiregreen and Brightside and Co-Chair Education, Children and Families Policy Committee.
Circus skills were provided by Greentop Circus, and storytelling was by Anne Frost, of Sheffield Libraries.
South Yorkshire community policing team provided a patrol car for the day, demonstrating the siren and flashing lights for children.