Zofia Jackiewicz

Families Included Prize: Induction Day

Families Included finalists get projects underway

31 August 2016 saw the Induction Day for Families Included Prize finalists. Authors of 10 shortlisted ideas came together to meet and learn what is coming next.  The day included lots of practical sessions on how to turn your idea into reality.

By Ben Mann
Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor at Essex County Council

Big dreams

Any of you old enough to remember the 80’s hit film Fame will remember the plain-speaking dance teacher Miss Grant, who made no bones about the task facing her new dance students. You remember!  ‘You’ve got big dreams, you want fame. Well fame costs, and right here is where you start paying, in sweat.’

Well, replace the sprung wooden floors of the dance studio with the manicured lawns of the gardens at Chelmsford Cathedrals Learning Centre and you have a similar scene.

Okay, the language and tone were slightly different but the event held last Wednesday was a similar call to action for the ten finalists who have made it through to the last stages of the Families Included Challenge Prize. The Prize is looking for ideas to help Essex parents combat social isolation. 

The all-day induction workshop delivered by Essex County Council (ECC) and Nesta was hopefully a lot more nurturing and supportive than Miss Grant tended to be, but for the ten finalists, who came together for the first time, this is the start of the next chapter.

From 50 entrants to 10 finalists

A broad range of individuals and organisations from across Essex submitted their ideas to the Families Included Prize, hoping to make it through to the shortlist. By the time the window for entries closed, there were 50 proposed solutions addressing the social isolation experienced by parents with children under the age of five.

Reviewed by a panel of local and national judges, hand-picked for their experience and expertise, the 50 applications were carefully considered, discussed and evaluated until head judge Dick Madden was able to announce the final ten.

On the day

Back at the Learning Centre there was a real buzz of excitement as the Induction Day kicked off with a note of congratulations from the head judge himself, Councillor Madden. We worked through a full day of discussions and workshops including an initial project health check for all finalists undertaken Prize partners the Centre for Supporting Voluntary Action – Chelmsford City and Colchester Community Voluntary Services.

The induction day also started a valuable finalists network that will create links between individuals and organisations that will last long after the prize is awarded.

When I got back to the office I told my boss that I’d had a genuinely good day at work. Being surrounded by passionate people who understand the needs of children and families in Essex was inspiring and over the next four months you can track the progress of the ten finalists via the Essex Challenge Prize website.

What’s coming next?

The value of a challenge prize is far greater than the final award of £10,000 that will disbursed in February 2017.  Over the next four months all ten shortlisted projects will receive support, advice and guidance that enables them to test their ideas and projects with families, evaluate the impact and build their business case.  

Watch this space for more updates including finalists’ blogs! Join the conversation on Twitter using #FamiliesIncluded.