Parent power – helping young children in Bedford to thrive

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The Bedford Giving Residents’ Panel has awarded its first grants to organisations to help young children in Bedford to thrive.

Bedford Giving is a collaborative project bringing together funders, businesses and residents to help improve the lives of children and young people in Bedford.

The Residents’ Panel Grant Making Programme is one of a number of initial projects by Bedford Giving. Others to be launched later this year include a volunteer mentoring programme for 13–15-year-olds to help them raise their career aspirations and a campaign to improve access to in-person work experience for young people who might otherwise miss out.

The Residents’ Panel is made up of a group of parents of young children who have been recruited to make the funding decisions. The parents have devised the grants programme, all about meeting gaps in services and increasing opportunities for children under eight and their families.

Bedford Giving Director Laura Pottinger said: “Participatory grant making is about devolving decision-making to people in communities impacted by funding decisions.

“This is exactly what we have done with Bedford Giving, asking parents who live some of the issues we’re tackling, to make funding decisions to help create solutions to the challenges faced by families in the town.

“Through the process parents have shaped the grants based on their own experiences and those of their friends and families. We’ve learnt so much from them about for example, what it’s like to be the parent of a child with additional needs and what it is like navigating the system to get the support they need.”

The Panel has awarded grants to:

Chums – to develop age-appropriate content for younger children and their families to help support their mental health and wellbeing, accessed via a new digital app.

Faces – to increase the availability of group support and one-to-one advice for families with children with additional needs and to develop and deliver a new parenting support programmes specifically for fathers.

Fun4YP – to provide activities after school and in the holidays for children under eight with additional needs and to offer support groups and workshops for parents.

The Residents’ Panel will be looking for more voluntary and community groups in Bedford to apply for funds for projects that will make a difference to young people’s lives in the borough. Find out more

View our video about what the parents got out of being on the Residents’ Panel and why they joined.

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