How we started Growbaby Kingston
We did a number of things at the start:
We prayed (our socks off).
We created a flyer.
We made an appointment with the Council member responsible for Children’s services and told them what we were doing. We were very clear who we are and why we were doing things but we also reminded them that we were there for the community regardless of “income, faith and background”. We have to say that they did give us grief and tell us that whilst they would like Growbaby they didn’t want the faith element. We were equally firm back and said Growbaby only comes with the faith attached or not at all. They then capitulated.
We made an appointment with the head of Children’s services (safeguarding) and told them what we were doing.
We spent a great deal of time trying to build relationships with local agencies especially those related to children’s services, this meant that we did lots of free face painting at events; we did anything that we could to connect with people. Noni also joined lots of local groups, became a member of the LSCB (now the safeguarding partnership) and went to lots of training events run locally so she could meet people.
We found out where there were local run Council events and offered our assistance. This helped us build a reputation for reliability and dependability.
We built a spread sheet of local contacts, so whenever we had a referral from an agency (as opposed to a self referral) we kept a note of the person and then sent out group emails if there were events we were running.
We contacted the hospital obstetric unit and spoke to the ante-natal midwife in charge and told her what we were doing.
We printed up some flyers (rather scruffy) but kept the costs low and then simply gave them out to the children’s centres, hospital, doctors surgeries, schools, health visitors and anywhere else we could think of.
We put one load into the school book bags of a local private junior school when we first started so that we could get some items in. After that initial send out we never needed to do another mail out, word of mouth went very fast.
We made sure that our website had at least some information on it.
We wrote up a short document, which we keep updated, that we could give people if they asked about Growbaby, it was a “this is our story”.
We ensured out safeguarding policy was up to date and that all our volunteers were DBS checked, we also ensured we had a continual professional development programme in place so volunteers could remain up to date with safeguarding matters. We offered to show this policy to the Council. (they did not take us up but were very pleased that we take child protection seriously)
Before we had the Hub drop in centre we were careful to ensure that we were reliable with deliveries to people’s homes.
We clarified our situation with money (we don’t take any money) so that when people offered to pay for coffee we knew we could say no thank you.
Once we opened the Hub we committed to only do what we could, we did not take on more than we could (tempting) and we only ran things as they came to us rather than we created them. (Difficult at times as we had an empty space which was empty quite often).