Charlotte Macken

Finalist’s blog #2: The Dance Network Association

Find out about the Dance Network Association’s pilot, its aims, big life news from the team, piloting successes (and challenges) and what the future holds for the project. 


A reminder, our programme is the delivery of dance classes as an interactive tool for childhood development for families. Our sessions are at the main to reduce social isolation between families but also to support in the reduction of childhood obesity from taking part in physical activity in a safe environment.

Using personal experience to enhance impact

So since Lucy and I began this journey I personally announced I was pregnant! So actually that has given me a much greater insight into our own programme delivery, in that I feel parents perhaps become more socially isolated after having children as there is nothing offered in pre-birth in terms of any physical activity or nutritional information.

So I have made it my personal mission to make sure I ask where I can find this information from my own midwife. I have been forwarded to a dietetic, so I will see what she brings to the table. In terms of classes there is nothing for me in my direct area, all that has been suggested is I attend yoga perhaps? Not very inspiring for a new mum now worrying about become isolated herself post birth. Food for thought…

So anyways back to the job at hand, we started off by talking to various venues to get our pilot classes set up in partnership so we could gain space in kind and hopefully our sessions would be of benefit to their buildings and networks also. So we decided on the Children’s Centre in Harlow (Parnall road) and the Gibberd Gallery (central town location).

Overcoming the trials & tribuations of piloting new projects

We began running our pilot sessions at the start of November, although we have hit a few brick walls along the way, it has not been plain sailing. The first session we had set up unfortunately was cancelled due to building works on our venue, the second class we danced alone as we had no families join us.

But after much fighting to get the word out via various means, partners and talking to families whilst in costa coffee we finally in our 3rd session have some families joining us.

The two sessions we have run so far have been outstanding and the guardians and children have absolutely adored the experience, many new facebook likes and questions already about when we find out if the classes can continue new year.

They say a picture paints a thousand words so I will let two of our young participant’s speak for themselves.

Building partnerships

We also had some visitors come to look at our programme for future partnership working. We had a visit from Vanessa Gayton Epping Forest District Council who believes this would be a great programme for the whole district and is going to meet with her directors about including us as deliverers for their NPO funding bid.

Secondly Chris Purvis Sports and Leisure Policy and Development Officer happened to walk through the gallery on Friday when we were running our sessions which lead to him tweeting and promoted the final two classes. We also caught up with him as he sees the potential in partnership working via the programme and Active Harlow to support wider health and wellbeing priorities in the district.

So we are really pleased even though we do not have large numbers of families attending the ones who are, are benefitting and the word is now spreading.. So off to write some funding applications to ensure we can keep this going.



This is one of blogs written by the Families Included Prize finalists. Click here to find out what other finalists are up to.

The Families Included Prize is the first time a challenge prize has been run by a county council in the UK. Essex County Council is working with Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, to develop and deliver this exciting new way for the Council to engage local communities, as well as discover and support great solutions.

For more information about the Families Included Prize, visit:, and follow #FamiliesIncluded on Twitter.