ABSS launches more than 40 events as part of the Festival of Conversations programme for families across Southend, 12-26 October.

Raising Southend; a Festival of Conversations is returning with more than 40 free interactive and exciting events, workshops, roadshows and activities for local families, children and professionals taking place from Wednesday 12 to Wednesday 26 October, across Southend.

The festival’s events and activities are aimed at families who are expecting a baby or with children under the age of four – as well as at professionals, partners and organisations who support them.

Hosted by local organisations across the city, the bumper programme will see themed events and activities that focus on everything from food, arts and creativity, environment, mental health, storytelling, pregnancy, home and community safety and many others.

Organised by A Better Start Southend (ABSS) – a partnership of organisations that have years of experience working with families and young children. It works closely with ‘Parent Champion’ volunteers who help to shape and co-produce the partnership’s services by providing a voice for the communities it works within.

The festival highlight will see four themed roadshow events for families, children and professionals that will host different community groups, interactive sessions, and child-friendly events with professionals in attendance to give information and advice to parents. These roadshow events provide a space where children can take part in activities while parents can gain support and advice. Just turn up on the day, no pre-registration is required.

  • Thursday 13 October, Early Years Activity & Wellbeing Roadshow, Shoebury Youth Centre, 9:30-11:30am – with Southend United Football Club and introductions to sports for young children with other community and specialist groups, expect hands-on sessions, with demonstrations and advice, including Mum & Baby Yoga.
  • Monday 17 October, Early Years Activity & Wellbeing Roadshow, Garons Leisure Centre, 10am-12pm – with similar activities to the first roadshow.
  • Thursday 20 October, Pregnancy & Health Roadshow, The Cliffs Pavillion Maritime Rooms – with immersive role-play activity Little City for walking aged children, with a sensory and play zone for the little ones, plus other organisations and professionals including doctors, pharmacists, dentists and practitioners.
  • Saturday 22 October, Southend Fire Station Roadshow, Southend Fire Station, 10am-12pm. An opportunity for a fun and interactive fire station open house, with the fire service, RNLI, and other organisations.

In addition, more than 40 events will take place across the two weeks including an interactive app-based experience for families to take part at their own pace called PIP’s Treasure Hunt that can be enjoyed with mico-activities across Southend.

Other free event highlights include:

  • ‘Umbilical Chords and Bump to Breast’ activity sessions taking place in Westcliff (Wednesday 19 October, 1 – 3 pm, YMCA Eco Hub) and Shoebury (Wednesday 26 October, 10 am – 12 pm, Trust Links Shoebury), run by YMCA Southend, for the whole family with information for those who wish to breastfeed alongside music making and screen printing.
  • Two ‘Managing Mummy Guilt’ sessions with Trust Links, one at its Shoebury Growing Together gardens (Friday 21 October, 10 am – 12 pm) and one in its Westcliff gardens (Monday 24 October, 10 am – 12 pm), offering a chance for mums to get together in a kind and supportive space to overcome the negative emotions that often come with prioritising their own needs. Plus, a third session called ‘A Bugs Life – building lives that thrive’ targeted at dads and their children, making bug hotels while chatting about life and everything we need to thrive (Saturday 15 October, 10 am – 12:30 pm, Westcliff, breakfast included)
  • For expecting parents, Focal Point Gallery’s ‘Expecting Art taster session’ is for those who want to bring art and creativity to their new family (Thursday 13 October, 4-6 pm)
  • At SAVS in Southend, ABSS’ ‘Boredom Busters’ session will gather ideas for low-cost activities, with a takeaway goody bag of tips, tricks and materials to experiment with at home. Children can enjoy a free flow of activity, where story and rhyme focussed activities encourage communication and develop comprehension (Wednesday 19 October, 9:30 am – 11:30 am).

The full programme of events is available at www.abetterstartsouthend.co.uk/festival with pre-registration required which is open now. For more information, contact: festivalofconversations@eyalliance.org.uk

Tara Poore, Director of A Better Start Southend said:

Southend should be the best place to be a parent and raise a child, and our Festival of Conversations creates opportunities to talk with each other about how we can make this vision for Southend come true whilst having fun. The Festival of Conversations further helps to highlight the great people, professionals and services across our city to support children and families.’

One of the festival’s event partners, Syrie Cox, CEO of YMCA Southend said:

YMCA Southend is proud to be an event host for the Festival of Conversations. Our projects, Bump to Breast and Umbilical Chords, are brilliant initiatives teaming up to provide two educational and interactive events for children and families, breastfeeding group support and music-making for parents with babies in one space. The Festival of Conversations will be a great two-week to bring together families, community groups and professionals across the city.’

ABSS Parent Champion, Faye said:

This series of events appeal to families across the whole of Southend. Having been part of the organising process, it’s been incredibly exciting to see the programme come to life with more than 35 events over the two weeks.”