Community engagement and family hubs launch events in Bradford


The Bradford district has received funding until 2025 through the government’s Family Hubs and Start for Life programme. The Family Hubs and Start for Life programme is managed by Bradford Council, in close partnership with the NHS and Bradford Children and Families’ Trust.  Read the National Centre for Family Hubs’ Leadership module for more information on family hubs governance. 

There are four main family hubs in the Bradford District – east, south, west and Shipley and Keighley, serving the areas of greatest deprivation. 

They’ve been in place in since 2019, with launch events held in May and June 2023 to increase awareness of their services. The launch events demonstrated how professionals and services work together, and fostered a warm, friendly environment for families.  

For more information on Bradford’s Family Hubs and Start for Life offer, visit the district’s FYI (Families and Young Persons’ information) website.

Planning the launch events

Preparation started six months before the event and included family hub managers, social work teams, health visitors and public health representatives. The team reached out to families who may not have accessed a hub before, using local needs assessments and a theory of change. By engaging seldom-heard families, the launch events help those most in need access necessary services. 

Before the launch events, the team spoke to family hub managers to understand local people’s needs. This also built a picture of the voluntary organisations to include in the events. The intelligence team’s data highlighted areas to target to promote the launch, and meetings with key partners enabled practitioners to properly communicate the family hubs’ services at the events.  

Working with partners, the team arranged taxis to ensure families could get to hub sites during the launch events. Support workers, health visitors and social workers across the district were all asked to bring families who hadn’t been to a family hub before, and in one area, local community wardens delivered leaflets about the launch.

The launch events

The launch events were held over four consecutive days during the spring half term at each of the four sites. Each partner organisation was asked to plan their own activity to make the event fun, educational and engaging. These included a penalty shoot-out with the library services’ Bookstart Bear and a family session on nutrition from health visitors. 

All practitioners were given a Family Hubs and Start for Life badge to promote a sense of unity, and to make clear which attendees were practitioners. Both families and practitioners received a QR code keyring linked to the FYI website – making information about the programme easy to find after the event. To help spread the word about the programme, families and practitioners were also given Family Hubs and Start for Life branded tote bags.  

At the event, the team put service users at ease with a warm and friendly welcome. The experiences of attendees reinforced the importance of this – a parent who attended the launch told staff that it had taken her an hour to leave the house before the event due to anxiety. During the launch event, the team helped refer her to Little Minds Matter, a local service providing support to families with babies and toddlers.  

The team were able to share their knowledge with attendees about Family Hubs and Start for Life, give them information on services and direct them to relevant stalls. Each attendee’s QR code keyring provided access to the FYI site, increasing the likelihood that they will engage with FYI services in the future, while the branded tote bags increase the chance of others in the community discovering family hubs and Start for Life services.   

Over 400 families attended the events. One family support worker brought 15 families from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and there was a good presence of families who have children with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities).

Promotion following the event

After the events, the communications team made sure that information about the Family Hubs and Start for Life launch was included in  council and partnership newsletters and social media posts. This activity created greater awareness of the services Family Hubs and Start for Life offer across Bradford. Data from the launch will be evaluated to support the development of future events.

Tips for conducting a family hubs launch event

  • Have a clear purpose for what you hope to achieve with the event.  
  • Be clear on the catchment area for each hub and which groups in this area you want to reach. 
  • Thoroughly plan the launch and include all partner agencies involved in the family hub network. 
  • Create a communication strategy to publicise the event, including promotion after the event has ended. 
  • Make sure the team are visible to welcome families and provide information on the services on offer.  

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