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Learn and play: Children in Braintree will have new and educational outdoor area just in time for summer

The outdoor area at Carousel Family Hub has undergone much needed renovations just in time for the summer and the easing of COVID-19-related social restrictions, thanks to a grant from Virgin Care.

The Family Hub, located in the Braintree District and run by the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (ECFWS), serves a wide range of children and families. The grounds are home to two play areas, both of which have recently been refurbished.

In order to furnish the play areas with exciting new equipment for the children, staff at the Hub applied for a grant from Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference Fund, a £100,000-a-year pot of money which employees can apply for a part of if they have an innovative idea that will benefit service users.

With summer just around the corner, and COVID restrictions becoming increasingly relaxed over the next few months, children will be able to make use of the garden to increase their exercise levels, and the brand new toys will bring lots of enjoyment and encouragement to play outside in the warm weather.

One of the play areas has a painted-on road track, giving parents the opportunity to educate their children on the importance of road safety and develop their knowledge on the subject. There are zebra crossings and stop/start signs, all so parents can be more confident in their child’s safety when out walking and crossing busy streets.

Some of the new equipment includes watering cans, scooters, road safety traffic signs, balance bikes, push cars, chalkboards and a water activity unit.

Natalie Groom, Healthy Family Team Lead for the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service said, “The last year has been challenging for both families and for the staff at our Hubs. It’s fantastic that we are able to provide a new and improved outdoor area for our children to make the most of in the sunshine”

“Improving children’s health and wellbeing is one of our key objectives so we are hoping that the new play area will encourage families to access an outside space, increase their opportunity to exercise more and have fun with other children.”

“The outdoor areas will also be used for after-school groups, resuming when restrictions allow. The mental health of children, particularly following COVID, is one of the most important outcomes for children in the area. By introducing after school groups, based around exercise and healthy living, we are supporting the mental health of our local community.”

Richard Comerford, Virgin Care’s Managing Director of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service said, “Being able to provide this incredible outdoor area for our local community is something we’re really proud of. It’s vital that after such a difficult year, our children and families have access to a stimulating outside environment where they can play and learn at the same time.”

Virgin Care
Virgin Care
Virgin Care
Virgin Care

Virgin Care funded over 30 colleague-led initiatives in 2020-21, through its Feel the Difference Fund.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

A team of child and young person wellbeing practitioners (CYPPs) from Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (ECFWS) were awarded Regional Champions Excellence in Mental Health Care at a recent NHS Parliamentary Awards ceremony held in London.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

Health and care training provider The Learning Enterprise has achieved accreditation for its clinical Continuous Professional Development training packages.

Virgin Care
Virgin Care

The CQC has given an overall ‘good’ rating to Adult Community Services in West Lancashire, which are run by Virgin Care in partnership with NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.

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