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Four groups across the Better Start Bradford area are celebrating after receiving a share of £314,500 through Better Start Bradford’s Innovation Fund.

The Innovation Fund launched last year and invited organisations to apply for funding of up to £100,000 to run innovative and creative projects which focus on parenting and the first years of life in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton.

Horton Community Farm and Grow To School have joined forces to create the Growing Together project and have received £30,200 to bring parents and carers and young children together to learn to grow their own produce at the Horton Community Farm site, SHINE at St Stephen’s, Chas St Vincent’s and Canterbury Centre for Children and Families.

During this time of self-isolation, they would like to begin by sharing vegetable and flower seeds with families across the area. They will also be sharing links to online videos and ‘How to’ guides on social media using #GrowingTogether to show families with young children how they can grow their own at home during this time. The project is also working with Better Start Bradford’s Better Place project to support their green spaces and play projects with planting and growing elements.

Charlie Gray, Horton Community Farm and Ama Chaney, Grow to School, said: "We are delighted to be able to share all the fun and excitement of sowing, growing and eating fresh produce with families over the next year. We have had to adapt the start of the project to suit the current climate and to enable families to grow things from home, which can easily be done in pots in their yards and gardens."

Another successful project is Older Yet Wiser, run by ChildsSide, who have received £75,700 to run a workshop series, over three years, for grandparents who have child-caring responsibilities for their grandchildren. It gives grandparents the tools to enhance the relationship that they have with their grandchildren, whilst receiving up to date information on giving children the best start in life.

Older Yet Wiser were one of the groups that met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visited the city in January. Liz Ranson and Judith Shalkowski, Co-Founders of ChildsSide, were thrilled to have met the Royal couple.

They said: “The role that wider family, especially grandparents, play in the healthy development of our children is so important and it was a great opportunity to share our work with the Royal couple. With the involvement of a researcher, the project will provide a unique opportunity to show the impact that grandparents can have in families.”

Womenzone are delighted to have received funding of £99,600 to open a Play Gym and Healthy Café that will not only provide a fun, creative play space for young children, but will provide parents and carers the opportunity to access support, practical training and advice.

Sadia Sajid, Development Manager at Womenzone, said: “Thank you to Better Start Bradford for supporting this project which will allow Womenzone to provide valuable play opportunities for families, encouraging parents to learn practical techniques in which they can support their child’s development.  As a result of this project we hope to enhance the relationship between parents and their children to build lasting bonds.”

Gill Thornton, Head of Programme at Better Start Bradford, said: “The Innovation Fund has given us an exciting opportunity and bigger platform for our community to test and learn new approaches to support and enhance the first years of life.

“From developing good early oral health habits, to focusing on grandparents’ relationships with their grandchildren, to providing a play facility with access to parental development opportunities, to families making basic recipes with home grown produce, these projects all have their community at the heart of them. Once this terrible COVID-19 pandemic is over, we are looking forward to watching them grow and develop.”

The next deadline for applications to the Innovation Fund have been delayed due to COVID-19. To find out more, please visit The Innovation Fund is usually open for groups to apply for between £2,500 to £100,000 for projects delivered in the Better Start Bradford area of Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton.

Better Start Bradford is part of A Better Start, a programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund , the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

A full list of the projects funded can be found here:

Project     Award     Description
Enhancing the HABIT delivered by the University of Leeds     £109,000     The project will enhance and refine the HABIT (Health Visitors delivering Advice in Britain in Infant Toothbrushing) intervention to ensure that they are accessible and appropriate for all families living in the Better Start Bradford area. The HABIT resources will be used by Health Visitors at any or each of the five mandatory home visits when infants are 0-30 months old.
Growing Together Delivered by Horton Community Farm and Grow to School     £30,200     The Growing Together project will take place at Horton Community Farm. The project will offer a programme of weekly seasonal sessions that run throughout the year. There will be a focus on food growing and simple recipes using home grown produce. Participants will learn how to grow, engage with their environment and nature, with knowledge and skills shared within the group and practitioners.
Older Yet Wiser delivered by ChildsSide CIC (Community Interest Company)     £75,700     Older Yet Wiser is an innovative workshop series for grandparents who have child-caring responsibilities. It gives grandparents the tools to enhance their relationship with their grandchildren, whilst receiving up-to-date information on giving their grandchildren the best start in life.
Womenzone Play Gym and Healthy Café     £99,600     The Play Gym will be free for qualifying families and the Healthy Café will have a minimum charge for food and drink. This space will offer the opportunity for parents and children to take part in activities with onsite play workers to encourage learning through play. In addition, workshops, Better Start Bradford projects and agencies will be available for families should they need support.