#NeverMoreNeeded: Dr Bell’s Family Centre
31 August 2020
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve supported local charities and voluntary organisations doing vital work in the community. With a series of small grants, we’ve been able to help those working in the voluntary sector as they tackle the impacts of the crisis in Leith and north Edinburgh. We want to share the stories of these organisations and the importance of these groups and charities at all times, but particularly in the current crisis.
Dr Bell’s Family Centre
“Having Dr Bell’s has been a lifeline for me…. It’s given me tools to help me through and made me look at things from a completely different perspective… I cannot thank Dr Bell’s enough.”
A ‘one stop shop’ for families to get what they need, Dr Bell’s Family Centre provides holistic support groups for parents and children under five years old. The support focuses on health and wellbeing, parenting skills and coping mechanisms, alongside providing respite crèche services, counselling and holiday activities. They aim to prioritise families living in a cycle of socioeconomic challenges such as poverty, low attainment, and poor health as a result of generational disadvantage.
With lockdown and the temporary closure of the centre, Dr Bell’s faced the challenge of maintaining regular contact with the families they support. The team at were quick to react, switching to online Bookbug sessions and delivering a range of other activities via their Facebook page within a week of lockdown being imposed. They applied to us for funding to secure better equipment and resources that would enhance the remote experience and provide families with the tools to take part. By mid-April they had their full online programme, ‘Keeping Connected’, up and running.
“Knowing we are not alone in this time of massive uncertainty and chaos has been a massive support. Creating structure and stability for both myself and my daughter has been extremely beneficial, where otherwise there would have been very little. Always considering the needs of their families, Dr Bell’s constantly endeavour to improve the services and tailor them to the needs of their users. Which makes us feel special and like we have a place in the community. Being in a society where we often feel insignificant, that’s huge!”
Their online ‘Keeping Connected’ programme helped families by providing a point of contact and a sense of routine throughout lockdown. To enable as many families as possible to join in, Dr Bell’s offered a range of ways to take part including online group calls, individual phone calls or Facebook groups. Their flexible and fun (see Sal’s Living Room Disco) approach has meant that families have been able to stay connected throughout lockdown.
The team, in partnership with a range of local and city wide organisations, also delivered essentials to families they had been working with including food, books, activity packs, electronic devices and masks. These deliveries helped families get online and keep the children entertained and safe. Food deliveries and associated food packs, such as ‘FoodBox’, ‘Take & Make Bags’ and community meals have also helped in many ways.
“I am loving Yoga and my daughter is enjoying Bookbug. Thanks for keeping everything going- it’s really helpful!”
“The service helped reduce stress re: food and hence reduce stress in household at a time when stress is heightened and support more difficult to access.”
The Dr Bell’s team are aware of how isolated, and in some instances, lonely, the parents they work with have become. The funding we provided has enabled them to make some necessary changes to their building that will help them reopen the crèche for respite care of young children soon. This will give parents a bit of spare time to get things done or catch up with friends or family.
They are also looking forward to a new health and wellbeing project that should start soon. They want to support the parents who have expressed an interest in volunteering or ‘giving something back’.
“I really want to help you as you’ve done so much for me. I’d like to volunteer or help with some fundraising.”
Looking forward the team are aware of the difficulties many will face, particularly around food insecurity. New projects and the partnerships and relationships with parents strengthened over lockdown will mean that Dr Bell’s are well placed to continue to support families in Leith to thrive.
In 2020, local charities have never been more needed for the vital support they provide to individuals and families, both regularly and with heightened demand during the crisis. The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign is a UK-wide push to remind the government, funders, donors and members for the public how we cannot afford to lose the voluntary sector organisations that we have come to depend on so much this year.
SCVO research shows that at the same time as voluntary sector organisations are seeing a rise in demand for services, they have been changing how they deliver and expecting or already experiencing a drop in income. The voluntary sector needs support more than ever to do what it does best during this crisis and beyond. We are joining in this campaign to help everyone understand the importance of a thriving voluntary sector on our own doorstep in Leith and north Edinburgh.