Families Included: Challenging Essex communities

  • Constance Agyeman

    Constance Agyeman

    Director of International Development

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27 May 2016

Essex County Council launches its first challenge prize in partnership with Nesta Challenges

Families Included is open to Essex communities and encourages them to come up with innovative ideas to help reduce isolation among Essex families with pre-school children.

Essex County Council recognises that it doesn’t have all the answers to the issues Essex communities face. It has pro-actively sought to demonstrate its commitment to innovate by working with Nesta to develop challenge prizes that will engage constituents to come up with ideas that help them tackle social issues affecting the region.

Councillor Madden kicked off the launch at County Hall with an encouraging speech that expressed his excitement for using challenge prizes as a new tool to address the important issue of social isolation. He will also be chairing the judging panel for the prize.

Chris Martin, Head of Integrated Commissioning and Vulnerable People, gave a heartfelt account of visits he recently made to two Essex mums living in very different circumstances who both experience social isolation. His account brought home the fact that social isolation for families with young children can be experienced by anyone, from the poverty stricken and more affluent communities, and for varying reasons.

Chris also recognised that the ideas generated by the challenge didn’t have to be grand, as even small interventions could make a significant difference to these women and their children’s lives. This could take the form of peer to peer networks, special interest groups focused on skills development, or other opportunities to engage in social activities that support integration into local communities.

The audience at the launch was a mixture of local organisations and groups and ECC staff from a range of different departments, all interested in how they could help spread the word and encourage a wealth of entries to the challenge. Some of the participants were already coming up with ideas for their own entries.

What does the prize mean?

I am really excited about what Families Included means to Essex as its first challenge prize. The issue is a pressing one, which statutory services alone cannot address fully. The £10,000 award for the winner and additional mix of development funding and non-financial support for the 10 finalists has the potential to make a real impact on the lives of families in Essex.

How can I enter?

Entries are open to anyone in Essex and will remain open until the 14 July 2016. There is undoubtedly a wealth of ideas out there that could help make a difference, so we want to encourage as many people as possible to come forward to demonstrate the impact that challenge prizes can have in galvanising the community to tackle the issues that matter.

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