young children enjoying fresh fruit

Community engagement & development

Parents are universally positive about the mutual peer support they experience during HENRY family support services and the value of sharing ideas with each other – but at the end of a programme or series of workshops they often ask “what next?” They want to maintain the momentum of their new healthier family lifestyle, rather than gradually revert to old habits.

A community asset approach is at the heart of our work to promote healthier and more active families and communities. By integrating service provision with wider community assets and opportunities, we maximise support around the family. We work in partnership with local communities and volunteers to help them identify priorities for their community as well as the strategies that will work locally to achieve those goals. This often involves building on existing or developing new community assets e.g. support groups, cooking or growing clubs, buggy walks etc. It also involves supporting local families to access these new and existing community assets in a way that works for them.

Through Department of Health and Big Lottery funding HENRY has developed a range of community volunteering models where volunteers from within local communities take on a variety of roles to help support local families to access HENRY support and to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Full HENRY training and ongoing volunteer coordination and support is provided. These volunteer roles include:

  • Community Advocates – engaged in community outreach efforts to increase participation in local HENRY services through attending events, local children’s centres, health clinics etc., helping local families understand more about how HENRY support can help them

  • Parent Champions – in addition to outreach activities Parent Champions are part of wider local networks and support local families to access existing community assets and services. They help families understand what is available and support them in deciding what’s right for them

  • Healthy Start Mentors – volunteers trained to deliver HENRY’s Healthy Families programme, either 1-to-1, or in groups alongside a HENRY-trained practitioner

By drawing on and building the capacity of local communities we are able to reach more vulnerable and marginalised families who often will not access statutory services or practitioner support, but will trust and accept support from a local volunteer, particularly where they share a common language, culture or experiences.

We are always looking for funding opportunities to help us support parents and other community members as agents of change within their own local communities. We recognise that they understand local needs and are well-placed to support and engage other local families in activities to promote a healthy start in life.

HENRY was cited as an exemplar case study for volunteer community engagement by The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and Parents1st for our work in Leeds and Telford.

Mum, practitioner and baby
Community projects

Partnership is at the heart of our work to promote healthier families and communities

Parent champion volunteer
Volunteer with us

Great volunteering opportunities for people who want to support children and families