THE city council has won a national award for its work with parents and young families.
Leicester City Council’s early help service has been recognised by The Coram Family & Childcare Trust, a family charity based in London, which has awarded the council Parent Champion Scheme of the Year.
Parent champions are volunteers who help local families to access services and support from a council’s network of children’s centres – now called Children, Young People and Family Centres. They provide a link between the community and local services.
Leicester City Council’s parent champions scheme was singled out for the way it involves parents successfully in all aspects of its work with families, so that local people can have their say and actively participate in service delivery.
Among the activities that helped Leicester City Council stand out was the use of augmented reality – a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world.
Staff worked with a local business which has pioneered augmented reality to turn their existing parent champions into computer-generated avatars. These avatars are depicted on banners and when a smartphone is held in front of the image, the avatars come to life and the user can interact with them to find out more about the parent champion programme and services at local children’s centres. The banners are displayed across all 12 of the city’s children’s centres.
As well as this, parent champions have been involved in organising Get Up And Go, the council’s annual summer programme to encourage children, young people and their parents to be physically active during the summer period with a range of low-cost or no-cost activities. They have also taken part in interviews for members of council staff, as part of a recruitment panel.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who leads on social care and anti-poverty, said: “It is vital that we put local parents – as well as children and young people - at the heart of what we do. This means we need to provide effective and accessible ways for parents to get involved in our service delivery, so that their voices are heard and their opinions are taken on board. This will help to strengthen our services.
“This award gives us recognition for our committed approach and the hard work we’ve put in to working with parents. It’s also a credit to our excellent parent champions, and so well deserved.
“It’s particularly pleasing to get this award in light of the pandemic, which required us to work very differently and creatively, for example by using our Facebook page to deliver key services. And it’s great to be recognised for our ground-breaking augmented reality work, never delivered before by any other parent champion scheme in the country.”
Parent champion Fatimah Goni said: “Joining the parent champions programme was one of the best decisions I have made for myself. I am able to help other parents like me. Winning the scheme of the year award is an amazing feat and I thank our co-ordinator and all my colleagues for being such amazing people to work with!”
Parent champion Ciara Audley added: “‘To win this award is amazing! I have achieved so much on my personal journey with the support of my parent champion family.”
The council’s early help service now plans to build on its success by recruiting more parents to become parent champions.
To find out more about the services available from Leicester’s Children, Young People and Family centres, visit https://families.leicester.gov.uk/childrenscentres/
Read more about the Parent Champion Awards at https://www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/parent-champions-awards-2021