Big Society

helpThe wonderful vision of a Big Society where people help each other, not for reward but just because they can.

In some places where this is happening through volunteering and support groups you can see that confidence is built and self esteem is lifted. People reluctant to step forward for fear of being unable to join in can find they step out on a ladder which gives them a feeling of self worth, helps them to have fun with their families and can even lead to a start of something new in their lives.

A great example of how a school ‘Home to School’ support really helps directly with people is shown in Children and Young People Now, wk 22 – 28 June 2010.

At the Marion Richardson School in Whitechapel, 30% of parents are now involved in some form of volunteering. Previously they were reluctant to leave their homes.

There is a credit union, after school clubs, maths and reading clubs. A group has started for teaching Arabic to Bengali and Somali parents, which is led by a Moroccan parent .

Alison Jones, who is employed by the charity School Home Support, is often found in The Parents’ Hut – the mobile in the playground. She supports parents as a listening ear on family sickness, bereavement, unemployment and housing and domestic violence.

The Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programmes and courses are also a way in and Alison says,‘It helps them to get to know other parents, but also learn about violence in our community, how to stop kids getting into gangs, what is domestic violence and child abuse.’

At SmithMartin Partnership we are involved in many schools around the extended day and activities that are happening in after school clubs and holiday schemes

We like this approach, being there in a place where parents are comfortable, even if nothing else the time to listen can be a real life line.

And as Alison says, ‘For most parents its about having the confidence to move out of depression and into the community.’ What a difference that must make.

National Childcare Week 2010


What I want to be………

Daycare Trust are asking children and young people of all ages to join them to celebrate National Childcare Week 12th – 16 th July.

The art competition is based on “ What you want to be”. It may be a racing driver, a teacher, a writer, a spaceship astronaut, who knows……

fifiWinners of the competition will be invited to an awards ceremony in Central London where they will receive their prizes and the chance to meet some famous book and tv characters, like Big Chris and Roary the Racing Car and their creator, Keith Chapman. The closing date is 18th June 2010.

All the winning entries will be published on Daycare Trust website and Flickr and other outlets, as well as being included in a booklet to mark the occasion.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP is a supporter and sponsor of the event and are pleased to be part of the Daycare Trust’s continued work, campaigning for accessible and quality childcare.

The research carried out by Daycare Trust continues to be relevant and informative to parents, employers and government initiatives. One of the recent guides produced by Daycare Trust is,
‘A Guide to childcare for disabled children’ which provides lots of details and support contacts .

You can become a member of Daycare Trust and receive much of the information for free. Contact through the website.

Children in Poverty

Children in Poverty


The target to halve child poverty by 2010 is unlikely to be met. Latest figures, as shown in Children and Young People Now,12- 18 Jan, show that around 2.9 million children are living in poverty before housing costs are taken into account, which is 650,000 short of the target.

Much of our work (SmithMartin Partnership LLP) is related to families and helping to raise aspirations. It’s about a realisation of how difficult it is to help children and parents back into activities and back to having fun.

As an example, if children don’t have the right footwear for activity sessions, it’s much easier for parents to say, ‘No thanks we can’t get to the kids active group after school’.

It’s like a snowball of needs that just can’t be stopped from rolling right down the hill.

Programmes that work directly with families, eg. Newcastle City Council on supporting teenage fathers are having a real benefit.

Let’s hope that grass roots methods can create a raft of support that can actually deliver, and be shown to really lift children out of poverty.