The importance of a stable and supportive home-life in contributing to the successful emotional and psychological development of a child is well documented. Those children who struggle most in school, those who are disruptive or present challenging behaviour are often found to be those who are not receiving adequate care and attention at home. Of course, family life is not easy and even the most secure environments can be fragile and crack if exposed to certain pressures, such as relationship breakdown, bereavement, domestic violence or economic difficulties. John Lyon’s Charity supports a wide variety of projects that exist to develop parenting skills, provide support to those in the greatest of need and to prevent families from reaching crisis point.
Brent Play Association
Brent Play Association, established in 1990, is a small locally-based charity that promotes and delivers activities and opportunities for school age children, including those who have special needs. It provides a wide range of services including play schemes, breakfast and after school clubs, a ‘state of the art’ adventure playground on the Stonebridge Estate and day respite for children with special and diverse needs. It runs The John Lyon narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal, Playwork NVQ training and assessment and provides equipment hire and loan to children’s organisations, including inflatable bouncy castles and go-karts.
It operates from new facilities in Peppermint Heights, Alperton, which include an outside play area with safety surfacing and play house, a multi-sensory room, large kitchen, inter-active whiteboard, sound system, computers, fully equipped art and craft room and quiet room with a library.
Brent Play also provides expertise and advice in all areas of children’s play and legislative requirements in the field of children’s play and child care.
A stable family environment provides an effective springboard for all young people to make the most of the choices that are available to them, whether in education, leisure or future career opportunities. Family Friends provides emotional and practical support through befriending and mentoring services. They recruit, train and match volunteers to families, who then make weekly home-visits for a year, supported by the Family Friends team. The programme is tailored to the families’ needs. Volunteers may direct families to appropriate local services, provide academic help, or parenting support. Volunteers become positive role models for the families that they are mentoring, providing inspiration and guidance to look positively towards the future.
Family Friends operates throughout Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham and is the only organisation in the area that offers an early intervention preventative health and wellbeing service, involving the whole family over the long term. Volunteer mentors are matched with families who have been identified as having difficulties by professionals: 40% of families are referred by social services, 20% by health visitors or mental health services and 30% from other services such as children’s centres, schools or other voluntary organisations. 98% of families are reliant on some form of social benefit.
On average c.50 families will be supported at any one time; referrals to the service have increased year on year. John Lyon’s Charity has been supporting their core running costs since 2003 with grants of almost £100,000.
Since 1981, PESTS (Parents of Ealing Self Help Training Scheme) has been providing play sessions for children aged 0-5 who have a special need or disability and offering support to their parents. They run fun days for children of all ages and their parents and they are the only dedicated special needs play group in Ealing. They have good links with the local authority, providing a vital lifeline for parents of children with additional needsand space for their children to play and support for each other. Since 2004, PESTS has received £102,000 from John Lyon’s Charity as a contribution to their core operating costs.