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Bringing together families, community groups and early years support in Southend

A Better Start Southend’s Festival of Conversations returns this year! We are excited to share that we will have another fun-filled programme of events in venues across the whole of the city of Southend.

26th – 30th June 2024

What is the festival all about?

Raising Southend: a Festival of Conversations features events and activities across Southend, aimed at families who are expecting a baby or who have children under the age of four. Join us for inspiring ideas from local organisations and the chance to make special memories for you and your family.

EVENTS

ABSS EVENT PROMO 1 (2)

*Registration required*

Get ready for an amazing time at our special event hosted by Little Heroes ASD Support Group! This event is for children who might need a little extra support because of their unique needs. It’s all about having fun in a relaxed and friendly place. We’ll be at Little Heroes’ new place, where everyone can join in the fun! 

There will be lots to do – fun activities and things to touch and see that make your senses happy. It’s like stepping into a magical world! Whether you love playing with different textures or watching bubbles float around, there’s something for you at our event. 

So come and join us for a day of fun and meet the dedicated teams from Little Heroes, Chaos & Calm and Social and Communication Peer Support Workers. Every child deserves to have their special moment to shine! 

This event is for families with children aged 3 and under.

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

Accessible parking is available on site. Toilet and baby changing facilities are available on site on the ground floor.

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS EVENT PROMO 1

Join us for a fun day for expectant parents and families with children aged 0-3! At the Ideas Market, you will find many free stalls with helpful information about local services and community groups. Learn about baby slings, reusable nappies and try a delicious smoothie from the Cycle Southend Eco bike. Talk to groups such as Storysacks, Eco Essex, Food Club, Cake Club, Welcome to the UK, Southend Supports Breastfeeding and many more. These groups help with living sustainably and supporting the community.

Little ones will love the Little City role play area where they can pretend to be hairdressers, firefighters, café owners and much more! We also have arts and crafts stations where children can be creative and face painting.

A photo exhibition showing families who have used the services of A Better Start Southend will also be there – see if you can spot anyone you know!

Don’t miss this fun day and the chance to find out about the support available locally and meet other families. No need to book, just turn up!

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

Accessible parking and toilet facilities are available in the Royals.

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS EVENT PROMO 1 (5)

*Registration required*

Join us for our ‘Wellbeing through Colour’ event where children and families can explore emotions using colourful crafts and sensory activities. This special event is free-flowing, meaning you can join in activities whenever you like! 

As you walk through the colour forest trail, you’ll meet friendly emotion monsters. Each monster describes an emotion and how we can handle it in a healthy way. You can enjoy crafting with each monster, for example, the yellow monster brings sun catchers, the green monster watches over a calm space, and the orange monster helps you make a worry monster. In the blue zone, there are sensory activities, like find-and-seek games, and the red cross monster has a surprise calm-down spot! Find the kindness corner for reading and positive words.

This event is for families with children aged 3 and under.

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

Accessible parking is close by. Toilet and baby changing facilities are available on site.

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS_EVENT_PROMO_1_(3)[1]

*Registration required*

Come join us to make something delicious with your little ones at our big baking event! This will be a special session, led by guest baker Dana from the Great British Bake Off 2023! We’ll learn how to make healthy and tasty pizzas together, from mixing dough to adding toppings, Dana will show us everything we need to know. It’s going to be fun and interactive for everyone! After baking, get ready for some games to see who will be our Star Baker? Let’s have a blast baking and making memories with your little ones. You won’t want to miss this day of fun, learning, and tasty treats! Morissa from Family Action’s Food Club and LifeSkills will be on hand with food-related creative fun too.

This event is for families with children under 3 years of age.

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

Accessible parking is close by on London Road or car parks near Hamlet Court Road. Accessible toilets and baby changing facilities are on site.

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS_EVENT_PROMO_1_(5)[1]

Get ready for a super fun event hosted by Trust Links, Dads Connect, A Better Start Southend! This special event is all about feeling good with a football theme. It’s taking place at Shoeburyness gardens and is just for Dads or male carers with children aged 3 and under. We’ll play games, talk with friends, and have a great time together. You can meet other families and chat with Dads about the Euros 2024. There will be lots of themed outdoor games, fun crafts, and time to spend with your family. Plus, there will be a delicious FREE brunch for Dads and their little ones! 

No need to book, just turn up!

 

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

 

Accessible parking, toilets and baby changing facilities are available on site. 

 

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival at the session.

ABSS_EVENT_PROMO_1_(6)[1]

Welcome to our Beach Hut Day! Grab your picnic baskets and suncream because we’re going to have a day of fun in the sun with our friends and family. The ABSS Engagement Team will have outdoor games and activities to get involved with and we can enjoy the beach with buckets and spades. We’re going to help our planet by cleaning up the beach with Surfers Against Sewage – we’ll work together to keep our coastline clean for the animals that live there. HM Coastguard Southend will visit between 2 and 3pm to show us how to stay safe in the sea. We may even have a visit from the RNLI team and a lifeboat, subject to call out. Let’s enjoy the sunshine and have a great time with our loved ones at Shoebury beach! 

No need to book, just turn up!

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

Accessible parking is close to the beach. Toilet and baby changing facilities are available in the public toilet area.

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS_EVENT_PROMO_1_(3)[1]

*PARENT & BABY SESSION: 11.30am – 12.15pm* *Registration required*

As busy pregnant mothers or parents/carers, it’s important to take a moment and breathe, not only for us but for the mental health and well-being of the children in our care. A Better Start Southend invites you to sample a free 45-minute yoga session hosted by the certified instructors at Yoga4All. There will be three sessions; prenatal, baby, and toddler yoga, focusing on pregnancy and early years health. Low mood and anxiety are common for new Mums and ABSS has had some real success stories with guiding mothers towards groups that have been of great support, not only for mind and body but also bringing those together, who are experiencing the same, within the Southend community. Wear comfortable clothing that you can move in and bring water. We’ll provide the rest!  

Please note that parents/carers are required to take full responsibility of their children at Festival of Conversations events.

 

Accessible parking is available on London Road. Toilet and baby changing facilities are available on site.

 

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

ABSS_EVENT_PROMO_1_(8)[1]

*Closed event*

Our Parent Champions are the pillars of the ABSS community. This exclusive event offers the opportunity to socialise and catch up with their ABSS friends in a relaxed and friendly environment. Healthy lunchtime snacks will be available, the City Explorers creche team will be on hand to assist, and Hartbeeps will host a  class using music, puppets, laughter and fun.  

Accessible parking, toilet and baby changing facilities are available. 

Please note that some Festival of Conversations events may have a photographer and videographer present to capture the session. There will be an option to opt out of any media consent upon arrival.

Themes of the festival

  Early Years Activities

Early Years Activities will focus on child development and activities for both you and your little one to enjoy.

 Food, Diet & Nutrition

We have a special guest this year to support with creative ideas for a balanced, nutritious and tasty diet for the whole family.

 Mental Health & Wellbeing

Events and activities that promote positive mental health and wellbeing for parents and families.

 Support for Dads

Activities aimed at Dads – enjoy bonding time with your little one, opportunities to meet other Dads and find out about local support.

 Special Educational Needs and Disability

Come together with other parents and families in a safe and positive environment, sharing information and introducing families to support networks.

 Sustainability

Find out what’s available locally to support with sustainable choices around family life and cost saving ideas.

 Arts & Creativity

Arts and Creativity ideas to enjoy with little ones that support your children’s development and promote mental wellbeing.

Here are some images to enjoy from
Festival of Conversations 2022:

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FAQs

This year, A Festival of Conversations will be a five-day fun-filled festival with a variety of events for pre-school babies and children and their families. The festival dates are 26th – 30th June.

For families and expectant parents, the festival will enable attendees to discover the amazing support network of services open to them and their families in Southend.

There will be a variety of events that include elements aimed at expectant parents, or parents and families with children aged 0-4 years.

Yes! All Festival of Conversations events are free.

Some events require booking, and you will be able to do this once the programme of events is available. Please only book if you are sure you can attend. We will have a short waiting list for some events.

Yes. It is not necessary to live in an ABSS ward to come to our festival.

We work with event hosts to ensure the events and venues are inclusive and accessible to all. If there are any accessibility restrictions, this will be listed on the individual events page.

To Find Out More
About A Better Start Southend
VISIT WEBSITE
Additional Information
A Better Start Southend (ABSS) is a 10-year National Lottery Community Fund programme seeking to ensure that children in Southend have the best start in life. Working with families and children, from pre-birth to the 4th birthday, and focussing on six wards in the City in which a larger number of families are considered to be vulnerable to social and economic disadvantage, the programme designs and delivers a range of projects and programmes based upon 5 key themes:

Social and Emotional Development | Diet and Nutrition | Speech and Language Development
System Change | Community Resilience

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive announcements about the festival straight to your inbox.

You can change or withdraw your consent at any time. For more information about how we process your data or how you can amend your consent please read our Privacy Notice for these details.