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Ten parents celebrate with share of £20,000 Happy Early Years Fund

31 January 2023

Just over £20,000 has been awarded to ten parents and carers to run initiatives for expectant parents and families with 0-3s living in the Better Start Bradford area.

Communities living in Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton will have access to a range of brand-new initiatives including pregnancy yoga classes, antenatal well-being groups, new stay and play sessions, mobile soft play equipment and school preparation sessions for toddlers.

Thanks to funding of £2,200, grandmother, Shaheena can hire mobile soft play equipment including a ball pool, slide, sensory toys for babies and toddlers to access over 12 weeks at Horton Park Primary School each week.

Shaheena, 65 said:

I am extremely proud to be awarded the Happy Early Years funding and I am excited about connecting with families and the community through this amazing opportunity.

Mum of three, Nadia, 36 felt very lonely in her third pregnancy – until she got out to a local stay and play group and was inspired to apply for funding to set up a group for new expectant mums, who don’t have English as a first language.

Nadia said:

I feel so excited to have been awarded this money to be able to set up the Happy Mama group. It will be lovely to reach out to expectant mums who are feeling anxious and isolated through lack of social interaction and barriers to language and know that they are not on their own.

Gill Thornton, Programme Manager, Better Start Bradford said:

The Happy Early Years Fund means local parents, carers and expectant parents can take ownership and deliver their own initiatives for 0-3s in Better Start Bradford area, while developing their own skills and confidence by bringing their ideas to life. It is heart-warming to see such a wide range of new initiatives, supporting such a diverse range of our community.

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.

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. It is recommended that applicants fully read the application guidance notes to check the eligibility criteria.

The deadline for round two applications is Tuesday 21 February 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 One Awards Happy Early Years Fund

Tiny Hearts


The project will help pre-school children to prepare for attendance at Primary School. The fun sessions will cover healthy eating, social activities, trips, potty training and communication development.

Little Mind Panda


The project encourages healthy eating and parents/carers exercising alongside their children to lead by example. Exercises include Pilates, Zumba, baby yoga, dancing, outdoor activities such as walking in local parks and trips.

Understanding the World through Transport and Role Play


Using transport and jobs that people have as the overriding theme, 0-3s will learn to understand the world. Through fun activities such as messy play, crafting and role play, children will learn about potty training, healthy living, language and communication and social interaction.

Pregnancy Yoga


Through weekly pregnancy yoga classes, expectant mothers will be taught many techniques including breathing and stretching to ease the delivery process, relaxation to give the mother a feeling of peace and calm.

Happy Mama


An antenatal group mainly for first time expectant mums with language and cultural needs. They will provide antenatal education, hypnobirthing sessions, pregnancy yoga, mental health and stability and hand massages.

Parents in Partnership


A new parents and tots initiative to get tots used to other children to prepare them for school and to enjoy each other’s company. Parents and carers will also benefit from talking to each other and sharing good practice.

Tiny Toes £2,220

Tiny toes brings mobile soft play to a baby and toddler play session. Babies, toddlers can explore, create, play, and get active in a safe environment of soft materials such as ball pool, slides and sensory toys

Watoto Kwanza £2,490

Watoto Kwanza translates as ‘Children First’ in Swahili. This Stay and Play Session for families with 0-3s will provide lots of fun play and learning opportunities for babies and toddlers.

Gambian Family Support


This Stay and Play Session for mothers and toddlers from new communities and will provide lots of fun play, learning and language development opportunities for babies and toddlers.

Baby Massage £960

The funding will pay for weekly massage sessions delivered by baby massage specialist.

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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 and 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.