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Building bridges through family fun

This week, Georgia reports from a Creative English Family Fun session held at a local community hub.

One of the main aims of FaithAction’s Creative English programme is to build confidence; as highlighted in research by the programme’s author Dr Anne Smith, many know the language but lack the confidence to apply it to real life. Bouncing off the success of Creative English, the principles have a much wider implication for facilitating fun and friendships between diverse individuals. In order for community there needs to be relationship – in order for relationship, there needs to be a common ground. The common need shared by all parents for something to entertain their children over the school holidays can be a great reason to bring people together. The familiarity of a community hub is the perfect place to hold the sessions, to enable vulnerable families and the wider community to access them and feel safe.

The family sessions centre around activities designed to not only form bonds between parent and child but also between the children themselves, parent to parent and even parent to volunteer. No matter the diverse backgrounds of families, the practical activity base of the sessions enables all to participate regardless of their level of language or skill.

Despite the hot day, the class was full of energy from beginning to end; the story of ‘Monster Island’ immediately garnered the involvement of everyone in the room, who were acting as characters, making sound effects and operating props. Other activities included: making your own boat, playing the Monster Island game and making your own monster mask! The room was filled with noise: the type of noise that made you want to sit back and smile at the cloud of energy and happiness that surrounded every child, every parent and every volunteer.

The session was as successful as you could have hoped. Volunteers developed their own skills, as they facilitated children in activities, whilst mothers chatted and formed bonds of their own. Children broke away from their siblings and formed new relationships with other children; this was particularly apparent during a game where they had to work in teams competing against each other, showing how confident they were to switch between activities and explore new things.

Overall the session expressed why we at FaithAction believe a sense of belonging and community is so important. Creative English’s Family Fun programme builds bridges between people from different backgrounds who would never ordinarily meet. The importance of social mixing has been highlighted in the recent Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper. The afternoon was fun for all involved and we can’t wait to see what friendships are formed and further skills developed over the sessions throughout the rest of the summer.