Government is committed to building a shared society that works for everyone and it is important to build and strengthen the bonds of the family unit. DCMS is running a number of programmes that contribute to strengthening families. These include the Early Years Social Action Fund and Community Organisers Programme.
The £1 million Early Years Social Action Fund is a joint partnership between Nesta and the Office for Civil Society and will focus on supporting families in need.. The fund aims to help more children aged four and under, achieve their developmental milestones through social action. The fund is backing projects where social action will build the confidence and knowledge of parents and primary carers, to support their children to achieve their developmental milestones ahead of their fifth birthday.
Community Organisers act as local leaders, bringing people together to take action on the things they all care about. The original programme (2011-15) trained 6,500 individuals who built relationships and inspired local communities to deliver positive social change. Communities were supported to kick start over 2,000 community projects and our evaluation has shown us that 84% of the projects focused on connecting people together, including neighbours, residents, families and vulnerable people. In 2017 we launched the Community Organisers Expansion Programme which aims to further increase the number of Community Organisers trained to 10,000 by 2020.
DCMS also has responsibility for Libraries, which change lives for the better. They not only provide access to books and other literature but also help people to help themselves and improve their opportunities, bring people together, and provide practical support and guidance. As a locally accountable service, they are well-placed to respond to local needs and issues.
Libraries can have a critical role in helping people to realise their potential, and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Libraries provide vital support to families in developing children’s language and reading skills and confidence from early years onwards They also run numerous activities like book groups, code clubs, discussion groups and events for children and families. Libraries are places where communities and individuals can develop, share ideas and learn together, and libraries are actively looking at how they could offer more and different family learning opportunities. Alongside a report ( The Experiential Library: the future of family learning) The Society of Chief Librarians has created a toolkit to help libraries deliver family learning and is running events to help library services to share experiences to deliver this effectively.
In addition, Sport England is supporting families through its Families Fund, a new investment of up to £40m into projects which offer new opportunities for families with children to get active and play sport together.