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, has recently set up 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, saying: “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, 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. With the summer holidays on their way, Helen decided to expand the scheme to include a programme of activities for children, which has so far seen families getting together to enjoy an Olympics-themed morning, teddy bears’ picnic and a meet the reptiles session.
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 year.
“Even though we’re only eight weeks in, over 100 people attending 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 more themed recycling events in time for wet weather season and Christmas.”