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12 more groups celebrate with share of £23,000 from the Happy Early Years Fund

26 May 2023

Just under £23,000 has been awarded to 12 groups to run initiatives for expectant parents and families with 0-3s living in the Better Start Bradford area (Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton), with just over £5,300 allocated to three initiatives run by local dads.

A wide range of initiatives have been funded in this round, including: baking activities, woodworking sessions, weekend stay and play sessions for dads, live music sessions for toddlers, farm animal themed activities with farm visits, hungry caterpillar themed play and stay sessions and much more.

One of the groups funded is Forest School of Nur. Thanks to funding of £1,800, mum of one, Haleema Khatoon can set up the Forest School of Nur. This will educate 0-3s about the value of nature in faiths and culture with fun, imaginative outdoor play and story time.

Haleema, 28, said:

I'm excited to start the Forest School of Nur within the community, I see the demand and importance of teaching young children how and why we should take care and look after our greenspaces and environment and its value in faith. The process of applying and being awarded the funds was easy and straight forward, a lovely team to be supported by along the way. I'm hoping this fund supports me in my own career development as well as inspiring my daughter and other families.

Maryam Kausar, who received £1,258 for her Animal Explorers play group said:

I am really excited to start this group in Canterbury because nothing like this is going on here, I want children to experience hands on messy play without parents worrying about them making a mess. During the sessions children will learn about different types of animals and their habitats through play.

Gill Thornton, Programme Manager, Better Start Bradford said:

We are delighted that so many parents are coming forward with such creative and fun idea for their 0-3s. So far we have invested over £43,000 in parents thanks to the Happy Early Years Fund and we have enjoyed watching them bring their ideas to life, while developing their own skills and confidence. We are especially pleased to see three initiatives lead by dads in this round, which include baking activities, woodworking sessions and a weekend stay and play group.

The Happy Early Years Fund places local parents and carers at the heart of the decision making, with a parent–led panel deciding which applications to support. Funding of between £500 and £2,500, per application, is available for the next two years.

The Happy Early Years (HEY!) Fund was officially launched by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Martin Love in September 2022 and has so far awarded 22 projects over £43,000.

For further information or if you are interested in applying to the Happy Early Years Fund, please visit or contact the Happy Early Years Fund Co-ordinator, Gulsoom Akhtar on 07923 443685 [email protected] It is recommended that applicants fully read the application guidance notes to check the eligibility criteria.

The deadline for round three applications is Friday 9 June 2023. There are three application rounds per year and the deadlines can be found on the Better Start Bradford website

The Happy Early Years Fund replaces Better Start Bradford’s Parents in the Lead Activities Fund, which awarded a total of over £160,000 to over 100 parent-led projects between April 2017 and October 2021.

Round Two Awards Happy Early Years Fund

Animal Explorers


Each week 0-3s will explore the different types of animals and the environment they live in. Activities will be delivered in a practical and creative way with arts and crafts, play dough, paint, music and dancing.



Every Sunday dads and their 0-3s will have baking sessions at West Bowling Centre. Through baking the dads will not only have one to one bonding time with their child, they will also encourage language development and other essential skills.

Dad’s Army


Weekend stay and play sessions for male carers and their 0-3s who are usually working during the week. Activities will include messy play, construction and building things together, story time and tidy-up time.

Forest School of Nur

£1,810.00 To support families with 0-3s to understand and learn fun new techniques of how to educate about their faith and culture in a more fun way in the great outdoors.
Gymnastics £2,500.00

Free weekly gymnastic sessions for families with 0-3s. The children benefit from balancing beams, ropes, hoops, ribbons, springboard work. Not only will they be getting the benefit of exercise but also increased confidence using equipment.

Hungry Caterpillars

£1,555.00 Weekly fun, educational activities and healthy eating for families with 0-3s, themed ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ book. There will be open-ended craft and messy play and food themed songs for the rhyme time.
Little Dots Live 1,281.84

A project with two halves: Live musicians will be joining the Little Dots sessions each week with a focus on a different instrument each week. The Little Dots will also be learning how to grow seasonal fruit and vegetables throughout the year.

Little Farmers

2,203.91 The sessions will involve learning everything about farm animals: doing crafts, dancing, playing, singing, reading stories, pretend/ imaginative play, etc. The group will also be visiting multiple farms to see and pet the farm animals for themselves.
Little Learners Coffee Morning £2,480.00

Parents will run a child-led activities pre-schoolers and coffee morning group at Lower Fields Primary School. Activities will be tailored based on the preschooler’s interests and skills and they will learn and play alongside their parents.

Physical Activity


Parents and their little ones will get active together through a fun range of physical activities, including physical games, dance and other energetic activities to promote family health and wellbeing. There will also be a visit to Grass Hoppers Gym.

Tree to Tale


Dads and their little ones will take part in woodworking sessions every weekend. They will spend time together with their children by making things. They will learn about tools and their function and use maths skills while making their items.

Arise Parenting


Arise Parenting Club will deliver activities such as arts, crafts, pottery, soft play activities and storytelling on a bus. The initiative will nurture the relationship between the parent and child through bonding therapy and arts and crafts.

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Families with children aged 0-3, Exercise and getting outdoors
Happy Early Years (HEY!) Fund

The Happy Early Years (HEY!) Fund enables parents, grandparents & other adult carers in the Better Start Bradford area to apply for up to £2,500 to develop ideas and initiatives for local families and their 0-3s.

HEY! Fund Application Forms

Download the Happy Early Years (HEY!) Fund application form after you have read the guidance notes.