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Family Hub Northumberland launches app to support parents

Free app aims to support children’s early years learning and development with ideas to help parents and carers come up with fun everyday activities.  

A new app aims to give children in Northumberland the best start in life. It’s been developed in partnership with Northumberland County Council’s early years team as well as local parents and carers.

Parents and children with a sign promoting the new Family Hubs Northumberland app

Photograph courtesy of Northumberland County Council

The app provides tips and ideas on activities to help a child’s learning and development, such as songs to sing and games to play together. For more tailored advice and support, parents and carers can enter the name and age of their child. They can also find their nearest family hub and register for updates on services available. 

Through the app, parents and carers have easy access to the full offer of Family Hub support. That includes links to popular activity guides, DadPad and free online advice on parenting and relationships. 

The app has been tested by the volunteer family panels to ensure it provides the services that families want and need. One panel member, a mother of two children under five, said: ‘It’s simple to use and has already given me so many different things to do.’ 

The trailblazing Family Hub programme operates in 14 local authorities across the country. Pre-existing children’s centres in Northumberland have grown and expanded to become Family Hubs, offering support to families with children of all ages from zero to 19, and to 25 where they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). There are now 11 Family Hubs and seven outreach bases across the county, while the Northumberland Family Hub website also offers a range of easily accessible services. 

The team behind the new app previously designed the successful Northumberland School Readiness Passport which ensures that when a child starts in reception their teachers have as much information about them as possible. The passport also helps practitioners spot those children who may not quite ready for school yet and require additional support – a feature unique to the passport offered in Northumberland.  

Rosy Dickinson, Early Years Consultant with the Early Years Team at Northumberland County Council, says: ‘Parents and carers are the first and most important educator in their child’s life. As a parent or carer, your baby or child will already be learning so much from you, as you chat, play, sing, cuddle and do all your usual day-to-day activities. Research shows that these things that you do together have a big impact on how children’s brains develop in these early years, and how they get on at school and in later life.    

‘The Family Hub app brings together age-related tips and fun activities to meet your child’s early learning and developmental needs. This will help them to be ready for school when they are due to start their reception year. The cornerstone of each activity in the app is playing and spending quality time with your child and all activities can easily be fitted into your daily routine.  

‘We also know that parenting brings its challenges and that’s why the app links to all the wider support available – such as the hub what’s-on guides to activities where you can meet other parents, our new family wellbeing service that offers mental health support or our DadPads that are specially designed for fathers.’   

Audrey Kingham, Executive Director of Children, Young People and Education, adds: ‘We want all our children in Northumberland to get the best start in life. This innovative new app is another tool for families that we hope will support them on their own parenting journeys. It’s fantastic to welcome more and more families to our hubs and we’d love for all families in Northumberland to register with us, so that they can take full advantage of all the support available.’

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Simon Guerrier
Writer and journalist for Social Care Today, Infotec and Air Quality News

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