For five weeks throughout July and August the Centre’s family services team are welcoming children and parents from low income families to the inaugural Summer Programme, funded by BBC Children in Need.
The free programme, which coincides with the school holidays, provides a safe and engaging place for children up to the age of 12, helping them build their confidence, improve social skills and generally have lots of fun. There were arts and craft, sports, musical performances and Lunchtime for weboutings to London parks and even Brighton beach. As well as children, the summer programme also hosts parents, who are required to attend in the afternoons. Family support worker, Tam Begum, says she saw a clear positive change in the families.
“In the first week there wasn’t much communication from the parents, both with the children and with each other,” said Tam. “But as we progressed there was a huge improvement in the level of engagement. It’s amazing to see how well the parents and children have developed and bonded.”
The Centre’s limited number of staff and volunteers can only host host so many children, so in order to help as many families as possible the programme runs for a limited time, with new families starting every two weeks. When asked, many of the parents said that if their children weren’t at the Cardinal Hume Centre then they would most likely be watching TV at home.
Rebecca has two daughters, aged six and two. She brings her older daughter to the Centre’s after school club so Tam invited her to the school holiday programme. “We feel at home in the Centre,” said Rebecca. “It’s a very welcoming place. The staff and the other parents, it all feels like a big family.”
The fifth and final week of the programme will see families from both of the two week sessions coming together for activities including a movie screening at the Channel 4 offices.
Huda, who’s daughters also attended the Centre’s Easter Programme, was incredibly grateful to Tam and everyone in family services. “The first day my children didn’t want to come because they don’t feel confident. Now they don’t want to leave,” said Huda. “Everything has been so good, but I’m worried where I can take them for the next two weeks.”
At the end of the first two week programme the children put on a performance for their parents and staff from across the Cardinal Hume Centre’s services. Wearing costumes they’d made themselves and on a stage they’d worked hard to decorate they sang songs from their favourite Disney movie. Watching the show was clearly an emotional experience for some of the parents. “I’m shocked to see how confident she’s become,” said Latifa, who attended with her three daughters, one of whom took Centre stage and stole the show. “I am really surprised. At home she says that she wants to do drama and perform, but I didn’t expect that! They’re so happy here, there’s a real sense of family.”
Our family services help families in poverty throughout the whole year, in a variety of ways. The amazing work they do wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of our supporters. Please consider helping future generations of families needing our support with a gift in your will.