Three new Family Hubs launch in Bristol that provide access to support

Councillor Asher Craig is pictured, smiling, with a bush in the background.

This blog is from Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Children Services, Education, and Equalities and Labour Councillor for St George West ward.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to launch three new Family Hubs in Bristol in June, seeing the joy of children and families coming together was special.

It was a typically colourful Bristol affair with community organisations, families, charities, and locals coming together to share food, fun activities, and information. It was also Eid, so there was a definite air of celebration at each of the new Hubs I attended, which are in Hartcliffe, Southmead and East Central Bristol (Wellspring Settlement).  

The hubs are a ‘one-stop-shop’, offering a wide range of information and support to all families. This ranges from conception, through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).  

Our Family Hubs give cause for celebration. Bristol is one of 75 local authorities selected by the UK Government to receive £4.8 million in funding to set up the new Hubs.

The range of help and information on offer through the Hubs include; community activities, help with baby feeding, emotional wellbeing, physical and mental health, early years and education, parenting support, housing and debt advice, youth activities and domestic abuse support, as well as services run by charities.

Future investment in this programme means that services will be transformed, and the offer will expand over time to include a physical, outreach offer, a community-based youth offer and a website as part of the new Family Hub network.  

A baby is pictures, smiling, looking at the camera. In the background blurred our people are pictured smiling.
Photography: Lisa Whiting

Family Hubs support the overarching aim of the city’s Belonging Strategy, which is that everyone in Bristol will have the best start in life, receiving the information, support and skills they need to flourish into adulthood. And more than this, the new Hubs underline our ambition to support all children, families, and young people to thrive.

We know the first two years of a child’s life are critical in terms of life outcomes, which is why at the heart of each Hub is the new Start for Life offer, which focuses on the first 1,001 days of a child’s life.  

Bristol has more to celebrate, also recently being recognised by UNICEF UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative and awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award. This award reflects Bristol’s ongoing commitment to increasing breastfeeding rates and improving care for all mothers. Bristol has higher-than-average breastfeeding rates at 6-8 weeks (70.9 per cent vs. 54.4 per cent nationally).  

A young person is pictured getting her face painted. To her right a person is pictured with a mask painted on their face.
Photography: Lisa Whiting

This comes from a partnership of Bristol City Council, UK Government, Community Children’s Health Partnership, NHS Bristol and Healthier Together and a range of voluntary and community organisations. The new Hubs will also include wider, wraparound services that can make a huge difference to people who need extra support, such as advice on getting into work, relationship building and stop smoking services.  

Co-locating services is an important part of the family Hubs model. However, in and of itself, it doesn’t guarantee better outcomes for families. It’s only the start.

We know that the families who may need our help the most, will not find it easy to explain what they need or ask for help. That’s why feedback on the new Hubs will be vital so we know what is and what isn’t working well for families.

As with all our work around children and families, we have formed the Family Hub and Start for Life Parent Carer Panel (PCP) to ensure that parents and carers voices can influence how support and services are delivered in Bristol via the new Hubs.

A picture of Bristol Family Hub bunting is pictured on a gazebo. The logo has colourful patters and writing reading: Bristol Family Hubs.
Photography: Lisa Whiting