Creating a flourishing community
When mum of two Helen Alves noticed a lack of activities in her area for young families during lockdown, she decided to take action and start her own initiative after attending an Eden Project Community Camp. Helen, who lives in Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, is the brains behind The Ivers Hive, a weekly group where parents can socialise and redistribute pre-loved items to combat financial hardship and help with loneliness and isolation.
Getting off the ground
After inspiration struck for Helen, she signed up to attend a virtual Community Camp in March 2021. Describing the course as ‘valuable’, Helen was able to hear from other community-minded people and took away lots of new ideas and connections.
Helen, who also works for a national charity, then joined forces with former parish councillor Ann to set up weekly ‘network and chill’ sessions at a local pavilion for parents to connect and socialise. Keen to reduce living costs for other young families, The Ivers Hive group also runs a clothes and school uniform recycling scheme, where people are invited to donate pre-loved items and come away with new clothes and toys if they need them.
The group has already come a long way since its first week, when three parents attended, with more and more people in the community coming along to have a coffee or volunteering to sort through donations. During the summer holidays in 2021, Helen decided to expand the scheme to include a programme of activities for children, which saw families getting together to enjoy an Olympics-themed morning, teddy bears’ picnic and a meet the reptiles session.
Attending camp was so inspiring! It gave me confidence and strengthened my resolve to start this project. It was amazing to see the buds of some really brilliant ideas growing.
Helen said, “During lockdown I kept noticing young mums out and about and I knew there wasn’t much for them to do. My own children were missing socialising and I was worried about families who were not only socially isolated, but financially isolated too. The idea has grown from there and it’s been amazing to see the community flourishing after such a difficult time.
“Even though we’re only eight weeks in, over 100 people attended a recent session and I’ve loved being able to hear the buzz around our events and see the joy on children’s faces when they play with friends or pick out a new toy. With people communicating, volunteering and sharing more than ever, we’re now looking forward to holding even more events for the community.”
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