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Hello to you all in these unusual and challenging times. 

The Alliance has a lot to offer you, please take a look at our FAQ page which we update daily and look out for our email updates including our newsletter.

Due to the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown we are presenting a series of free Alliance Connect webinars online - see below, but full details of each event can be found on our ALLIANCE CONNECT tab under "Our Services" dropdown menu above. These events give early years providers an opportunity to share practices, concerns, raise questions and, above all, give and receive support.

Please do contact us if you need any further information or support.

We have also been very busy developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, please see below and for full details please visit our TRAINING & WORKSHOPS tab under "Our Services" dropdown menu above. Both of these styles of events ensure you will still receive a form of face to face support and advice from us at this challenging time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under our NEWS & EVENTS tab on "Our Services" dropdown menu and also in our updates via email.

Please use the OUR SERVICES dropdown menu above to navigate around our local services, Alliance Connect events, workshops and partnership pages.

Don't forget you can still access the Alliance online training package Educare and also take the opportunity to learn about the Alliance SMARTpd our bespoke high quality early years training and professional development packages for individuals and group settings. 

About Us

The Early Years Alliance supports an ever-widening range of early years providers and provides a united voice for all our members, as well as providing an expanding portfolio of direct services for children and families. As the Central England Service Hub, we support approximately 1400 Alliance members in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Northants and Oxfordshire. Our members include pre-schools, day nurseries, toddler groups, nursery schools, child minders, children's centres and individuals. However we work closely with the other eight service hubs across the country and promote cross boundary working for members. 

We have been providing high quality support and advice to providers of early years education and childcare in the service hub areas above for many years. Locally, across all the Central England Service Hub, we also offer a comprehensive and up to date package of support to members, including:

  • training programme of topical high-quality online workshops delivered by our team of experienced tutors
  • bespoke workshops and tailored inset training packages for individual settings, including safeguarding audits, Pre-Ofsted audits and EIF packages, and management committee training  
  • a payslip service - details on our "Payslip Service" tab on the drop down menu
  • Our  ALLIANCE CONNECT which puts on events in local areas — meetings with speakers on current topics, information updates, networking opportunities - non-members can also attend and then can become a member of the Alliance at the event if they wish
  • A regular Central England newsletter via email.

To find out more about our work and services contact us by email at centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk or telephone 01908 263700

Early Years Alliance Equality and Diversity Code: ‘the charity is committed to recognising, valuing and respecting the diversity of its staff, job applicants, service users, members, volunteers and trustees.  The charity recognises that everyone has a contribution to make and it aims to ensure that all individuals with whom it has contact will be treated in a fair and consistent manner’. ‘The charity is committed to the principles and practice of equality of opportunity’. Subscribe to our newsletter

Central England Service Hub

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'you said, we listened...' Autumn Term 2020

Everything is continuing to change rapidly across the Early Years Sector.  We have continued to deliver during the Summer Term which are still well attended.  We have been asked to repeat some of the focus discussions in the Autumn term,  as some term time providers were unable to attend.  

One session is never the same as another, as providers are from across the country and their childcare delivery can be different - some are operating from home, community buildings with multi users, attached to schools or a purpose built building, with a key focus on connecting you with other providers, sharing concerns and key questions, sharing practice, supporting each other and looking ahead. 

To book your FREE place or full information and details of all dates booked for our Alliance Connect online events including links to booking your free place, please select our ALLIANCE CONNECT tab on the "Our Services" dropdown menu above.

The next round of networking meetings will focus on:

 

Focus On Childminders - Childminding and Business

Let's Talk Committee Matters

Let's Talk January

OFSTED Inspections

Terrifc's 2's

Whatever the Weather

 


Join our new Virtual Classroom!

To learn about our Autumn Term of online training workshops, please visit the TRAINING & WORKSHOPS tab on the "Our Services" dropdown menu above.

The workshops this term include:

Domestic abuse and Violence awareness – Do you want to gain a greater understanding of how to identify and support those who may be at risk of, and those who may witness domestic violence?

Let’s talk the learning walk – Who is ready for the conversation with Ofsted? Want to find out more about ways you can showcase your provision?  

Defining the Early Years Curriculum – What to gain a more detailed understanding of the Early Years curriculum? New to working in Childcare?

Exploring Emotional Experiences – Do you understand emotional resilience? Do you want to enable children to risk take in a safe and secure way? 

Exploring the Education Inspection – Are you worried about when Ofsted are due? Do you want to know how Ofsted will inspect registered early years settings? 

Promoting Positive Behaviour – Are you confident you do all you can to support children’s positive behaviour? Need more information on supporting children who display more challenging behaviour? 

Discovering and developing loose parts play - Spark children's sense of wonder and joy by learning the best way to use the loose parts you have in your setting. 

Business success in the early Years – Business Success, what does this mean to you? Do you want to explore how leadership, the quality of the setting, effective marketing strategy and sound financial management systems are all essential pieces of a sustainability jigsaw?

Promoting Communication and Language - Learn how to support all children in your setting to develop their speech and language skills.


Find out more about Alliance membership

Benefits of membership of the Alliance include:

  • More than 20 free Cache-endorsed online training courses for your team via online training specialists EduCare
  • Access to 24hr legal helpline Law-Call 
  • 10 issues of Under 5 magazine a year — each issue is packed with sector news, policy updates and activity ideas
  • 'EY Instant Update' emails to alert you of any policy, legislation or funding changes as they happen
  • Access to our specialist and competitively-priced insurance packages
  • On-call support from our expert advisers
  • 20% off our extensive range of books and selected publications
  • Free mini guides on various aspects of running an early years setting

 

Subscribe to our newsletter

About us

As the Alliance Central England Service Hub, we support approximately 1400 members in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Milton Keynes, Northants and Oxfordshire. Our members include pre-schools, day nurseries, toddler groups, nursery schools, children's centres and individuals.

We have been providing high quality support and advice to providers of early years education and childcare in the service hub areas above for many years.

The type of support we offer ranges from alliance connect meetings with guest speakers, networking opportunities with other early years member groups and sharing best practice and advice. We are a credited childcare training provider and run regular courses, including Cache Qualification courses in early years, and early years workshops such as "Managing your Ofsted Inspection", and First Aid courses, from our Milton Keynes office - please see our training page for details of planned courses. We also create and deliver bespoke workshops either for individual settings or practitioners and providers to access, recent workshops have included GDPR, Pensions and Auto-enrollment, and PDN (Professional Development Network) workshops.   

Please also refer to "Our Services" for current projects and work being carried out across the service hub.

For any queries, please do get in touch with us, Early Years Alliance Central England Service Hub, as follows:

Service Manager

Helen Middleton email: helen.middleton@eyalliance.org.uk tel:01908 263700 

Service Administrator

Claire Viola email: claire.viola@eyalliance.org.uk, tel: 01908 263700

 

Our Services

News & Events

Girl at a party

#ThisIsEarlyYears

Join our #ThisIsEarlyYears campaign...

Read more

Training & Workshops

Workshop


Welcome to our virtual classroom

Following on from the popularity of our Alliance Connect...

Read more

Alliance Connect

Coffee morning

'you said, we listened...'

Autumn Term

Everything is...

Read more

Building Better Opportunities

Enterprising People

Helping people to a better future through business start-up support, training or active job search. 

Would you like advice on funding and support accessing childcare?

If you are looking to get back into work or training this is the...

Read more

Crèche services

Baby playing xylophone

MK Crèche service is an Alliance childcare service based in Milton Keynes.  We offer crèches in the community...

Read more

Our childcare provisions

Directly-managed settings

The Alliance directly manages 75 childcare services across England. 

...

Read more

Payslip service

Baby at computer

Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

We offer...

Read more

Toy library

What ismk:toy library?

mk:toy library is...

Read more

Picnic in the Park, Luton, Bedfordshire

 

...

Read more

Contact Us

Boy on toy phone

To enquire about our services or to see how we could support you, your setting or childcare service please contact:

...

Read more

News & Events

Girl at a party

#ThisIsEarlyYears

Join our #ThisIsEarlyYears campaign!

The Early Years Alliance has launched a new campaign to highlight the valuable role that early years providers, and particularly private and voluntary settings, play in the local community.

The #ThisIsEarlyYears campaign aims to make the positive case for greater support for the early years sector ahead of the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, when the government's spending plans for the coming years is due to be decided.

We at the Alliance know that for far too long the early years sector has been underappreciated and undervalued.

That's why we want to make the positive case for investment into the sector, highlighting not only the challenges that providers are facing but why the early years is so important: the care and learning experiences that have such a significant impact on young children's early development, the valuable support given to parents and carers, and the central role that so many settings and providers play in their local communities.

Get involved - share your story with us and your local MP!

For more information on our campaign and how to get involved please click here

Get the facts on your side

To help support providers in their effort to lobby local MPs for greater sector support, we have also created an interactive early years data page on our website that reveals:

  • how childcare provider numbers in your area have changed over the last five years
  • how early years funding rates in your area have changed over the last three years
  • how current funding rates for private and voluntary providers in your area compare to rates paid to maintained nursery schools.

 

Find your local early years data now!


 

Early Years Workshops

Workshops, Alliance Connect and training courses in Central England — important update

Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, for more information about please visit our Training and Workshops tab on the drop down menu. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under Events here and also in our new termly News Updates.


 

We have a range of  fun story, song and rhyme videos on our YouTube channel. Join Natalie from the Early Years Alliance for the following adult foucused sessions:

 

Mathematical Babies  introducing maths to babies and young children in the home and all the benefits for your child’s development.

 

Making the most of Play Patterns understanding your child’s play patterns and how you can support and encourage learning through play at home.

 

Sharing books with your toddler and pre-school child  supporting your child at home with reading and sharing books.

 


 

DON'T FORGET TO LOOK AT THESE RECORDINGS TOO:

Sharing books with your toddler and pre-school child  supporting your child at home with reading and sharing books

Positive Interaction with Babies discovering how you can support and develop your babies early brain development.

Family Meditation session finding ways to relax and unwind, for all the family, even the little ones!

Exploring Nature Through Play! ideas for free and fun ideas using nature to plan with your child at home

Language & Communication Through Play supporting your child’s language and communication through play in the home.

 

Don't forget you can share our YouTube channel with your parents:  https://www.youtube.com/user/PreSchoolLA/videos


 

Training & Workshops

Workshop


Welcome to our virtual classroom

Following on from the popularity of our Alliance Connect online networking events, having listened to your views, wants and needs, we have now developed a programme of Virtual Classrooms.

Delivered over two or three 90 minute sessions, these courses have been specifically designed to be delivered online and can be accessed from the safety and comfort of your own space, whether that be at home or in the workplace, giving you an interactive experience with other providers to share ideas and support you to effectively deliver your provision.

 

Our Spring Term workshops wil be available very soon, please look out for them here!

 

 

 

Promoting Communication and Language in the Early Years 

Do you want to learn how to support all children in your setting to develop their speech and language skills? This workshop will support your setting to promote good communication and language development in young children. ​ 

Suitable for: 

  • Early years practitioners 

You will, 

  • Discuss the importance of language ​ 
  • Identifying influences on children’s language​
  • Consider expected patterns of development​ 
  • Explore supportive approaches to promote language development 

NB. Sessions will take place across 2 days

Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th November 10am - 11.30am

Members £35 p/p Non-members  £50 p/p

To book:
Sessions are held virtually by Zoom. Please register each person by clicking the course date you are interested in. We will then contact you to arrange payment.

Not a member? Find out more here  


New FREE 'Wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak’ EduCare bundle

The Alliance and EduCare are working together to offer even more practical support to providers in this difficult time. It contains FIVE CPD-recognised courses. These specially selected courses give practical advice on ways to understand and manage anxiety, low mood and depression over the coming months. It also includes guidance on online safety.

Find out more here


FREE TO ALLIANCE MEMBERS: Good Practice in Early Years Infection Control

To help settings during this difficult time, we have made Good Practice in Early Years Infection Control freely available to all Alliance members.

Click here or log in to the Members' Area to read an online copy of the publication.


 

Feedback from previous workshops 

" i now have a much better understanding of what Ofsted define as teaching and what they expect to see" - Quality Teaching & Learning in the Early Years workshop March 2020

"Thank you for this very useful info" - Managing Your Ofsted Inspection workshop March 2020

 

Cost of workshops:

£35 Alliance Members

£50 non-members

Become a member of the Alliance to receive a number of Alliance benefits such as discounted workshops, over 20 free online training courses for your team via online training specialists EduCare, access to 24 hour legal helpline Law-Call  and the Alliance Under 5 magazine.


Are you, or a member of your team, wanting to undertake a NCFE CACHE LEVEL 3 DIPLOMA FOR THE EARLY YEARS WORKFORCE? 

The Alliance is endorsed by CACHE and is a preferred provider to deliver Level 3 training in Early Years Education and Care.

To find out more about this training contact Ria on 01732 363070 or email ria.clifton@eyalliance.org.uk

For more information on our training and qualifications for early years practitioners and apprentices please visit the Training Page of our national website. 

Training Centre, First Floor, Bridge House, 97-101 High St, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1DR, 01732 363 070, training.centre@eyalliance.org.uk

 

Alliance Connect

Coffee morning

'you said, we listened...'

Autumn Term

Everything is continuing to change rapidly across the Early Years Sector.  We have continued to deliver during the Summer Term which are still well attended.  We have been asked to repeat some of the focus discussions in the Autumn term,  as some term time providers were unable to attend.  

One session is never the same as another, as providers are from across the country and their childcare delivery can be different - some are operating from home, community buildings with multi users, attached to schools or a purpose built building.

Following her attendance at 2 Alliance Connect events Charlotte from Buckinghamshire setting, Woolstone Pre-school described what she has gained from the events. Having the opportunity to hear the experiences of others reassured her that she was not alone and she started to feel less isolated.  Moving on to the prospect of opening her setting, Charlotte has been using the Welcome Back Pack which has been extremely useful – the team have used the checklist, considerations and cross checking documents. Charlotte said “ I would like to say that I would not have got through this without the Early Years Alliance.  I appreciate how quickly the Alliance responds to Government bulletins, that we are represented and have access to Lawcall.  I value the support immensely and would like to thank the Alliance”.

With a key focus on connecting you with other providers, sharing concerns and key questions, sharing practice, supporting each other and looking ahead. To book your FREE place, click on the appropriate link below, which will take you to the event registration form. 

For full information and details of all dates booked for our Alliance Connect online events including links to booking your free place, please select our ALLIANCE CONNECT tab on the OUR SERVICES dropdown menu.

The next round of networking meetings will focus on:

Focus on Childminders

All Early Years Providers are welcome to any session that we host, but we also know that some of the challenges are different when you are working out of your own home.  With this in mind, we holding a dedicated Alliance Connect event for home-based childcare.  Come and join other childminding providers and share your experiences and ideas.

Childminding and Business

Childminding and business can be a balancing act. Join our Connect event to focus on achieving that balance and discuss with others the challenges this brings.

Let’s Talk More Committee matters

In September and October we hosted our first ‘Let’s talk committees’ Alliance Connect event.  You said you wanted more opportunities to network and discuss, to keep up to date with news from the sector, to ask questions regarding issues that are important to you as volunteers and to share ideas with other volunteers. Join us for: Sector updates, Managing staff - your key questions and key responsibilities of trustees and committee members

 

Let’s Talk January

January is fast approaching! Join our interactive Alliance Connect networking session to discuss all things January. Together we can talk about government guidance updates, local restrictions, new children starting, sustainability and welcoming Ofsted back through the doors. 

Whatever the Weather

How do you provide outdoor learning whatever the weather?  

Join this interactive session for sharing ideas and overcoming challenges to enable exciting outdoor learning all year round.

 

Feedback from recent Alliance Connect meetings:

“Nice to see others (via zoom), good information sharing – I would attend again” Sharon, 19 May 2020

 “This was my 2nd one – nice to know others are in the same boat.  Good answers to the chat questions. The links to the packs are great – very helpful” Jane 21 May 2020

 


Stay connected with us

April saw the launch of our first online Alliance Connect sessions to keep in touch with providers and to give you the opportunity to come together and discuss the issues you are facing at this time.

We have had some positive feedback from our first sessions. When asked what they liked most about the event, one of our attendees said:

The only thing that’s certain is that everything is uncertain”

Following her attendance at 2 Alliance Connect events Charlotte from Buckinghamshire setting, Woolstone Pre-school, who described what she has gained from the events. Having the opportunity to hear the experiences of others reassured her that she was not alone and she started to feel less isolated.  Moving on to the prospect of opening her setting, Charlotte has been using the Welcome Back Pack which has been extremely useful – the team have used the checklist, considerations and cross checking documents. 

Charlotte said “ I would like to say that I would not have got through this without the Early Years Alliance.  I appreciate how quickly the Alliance responds to Government bulletins, that we are represented and have access to Lawcall.  I value the support immensely and would like to thank the Alliance”.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Alliance Connect?

Alliance Connect meetings offer an opportunity to meet other childcare practitioners and to explore the particular issues facing those involved in managing a childcare setting.

There will be opportunities to share good practice and to obtain mutual support.

Alliance Connect meetings are also your chance to get your thoughts and concerns shared right up to government level and to help shape national policies.

We can pass on your feedback to Alliance managers and to Neil Leitch, our Chief Executive, who regularly meets with government ministers to help shape early years policy.

 

Building Better Opportunities

Enterprising People

Helping people to a better future through business start-up support, training or active job search. 

Would you like advice on funding and support accessing childcare?

If you are looking to get back into work or training this is the project for you.

We help to support disadvantaged people into training, employment, self-employment or active job search. 

We will address the barriers participant’s face and aim to help them overcome individual barriers to support back into work or training.  Each participant will be assessed and personalised programmes monitored throughout.  For example;

  • Getting childcare arrangements through links with two/three year funding, Pre Schools, nurseries etc.
  • Training opportunities available locally
  • Individual based support, working with the most vulnerable participants to enhance life freedom.  No short term time limit.
  • Working in partnership with the Building Better Opportunities team to help tailor to individual needs. 

For more information please contact:

Emma Stace on emma.stace@eyalliance.org.uk 07808 039012

To download our flyer please click here

This project is match funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund

Early Years Alliance Equality and Diversity Code: ‘the charity is committed to recognising, valuing and respecting the diversity of its staff, job applicants, service users, members, volunteers and trustees.  The charity recognises that everyone has a contribution to make and it aims to ensure that all individuals with whom it has contact will be treated in a fair and consistent manner’. ‘The charity is committed to the principles and practice of equality of opportunity’.  

Crèche services

Baby playing xylophone

MK Crèche service is an Alliance childcare service based in Milton Keynes.  We offer crèches in the community to children centres, charity’s, local business and for events across Milton Keynes, Luton, Buckingham and Northampton.  This enables parents and carers to access educational courses, recreational activities and events either on a long term basis or as a one off crèche.

Currently due to COVID-19 we are not delivering any crèches, but we look forward to returning with this service as soon as we are able to. Please contact the office number if you wish to talk to us about our services.

Our committed, friendly and well-qualified team provides high quality care and learning opportunities for children aged between 6 weeks-8 years.  We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) with a focus on learning through play and actively work in partnership with parents, careers and settings.

All crèche supervisors are qualified to an NVQ level 3 in the Early Years and all staff employed have an enhanced DBS disclosure.

During our sessions we promote healthy eating and have been awarded a highly commended Smile Award in recognition of this.

For further information or to make a booking please contact

Laura Wilkinson
tel: 01908 263700 or 07718404592
email:crechemk@eyalliance.org.uk

Our childcare provisions

Directly-managed settings

The Alliance directly manages 75 childcare services across England. 

Visit the Find Childcare page on the Alliance website to see the full list.

The Central England Service Hub directly manages four settings. Please contact them directly.

Payslip service

Baby at computer

Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

We offer a comprehensive, secure payslip service for pre‑schools, full daycare nurseries, out of school clubs and other community groups across England and Wales.

The service includes:

 

Enquire about our payslip service

 

Toy library

What ismk:toy library?

mk:toy library is a service in Milton Keynes for pre‑schools, childminders and parents. We love to loan out educational and entertaining play equipment to suit babies and younger children. We have lots of toys and resources to suit settings, individuals and parties, which we lend out on a three-week or weekly basis

Please note that due to COVID-19 the MK ToyLibrary is currently closed, however we look forward to opening as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so. Please contact the office number or email us if you have any queries during this period, and look out for news of our reopening here.

We have two services weekly loan of larger party/outdoor play equipment and long-term loan of Discovery Boxes.

Our Weekly Loan equipment starts from £15 for a week and includes a range of packages some with bouncy castles aimed at older toddlers and pre‑schoolers and a toddler package for babies and younger toddlers, as well as outdoor play equipment. Visit our  weekly loans page for more information. Members of the Alliance receive a 10% discount on their Weekly Loan booking.

Our Discovery Boxes are themed around a particular topic such as Space, Transport or Magnets and cost £5 for 3 weeks (minimum spend £10). These themed Discovery Boxes contain a range of games, toys, books, role play equipment or learning resources as well as ideas for extending activities. Some of the Boxes aren’t actually boxes but equipment such as larger games or physical play equipment, check out the Long-term Loan (Discovery Box) page for more information. Members of the Pre-school Learning Alliance can loan boxes for FREE.

We also have a range of specialised SEN equipment which is available for loan to families with a particular need, long‑term loan of this equipment can be arranged in person.

Visit the mk:toy library website which has an online catalogue of all our toys.

Why does Milton Keynes need mk:toy library?

The members of the Alliance believe that all children are entitled to play. Play is a valuable way to learn and the aim of mk:toy library is to allow all children to have access to a variety of different play equipment and resources.

We have a large selection of specialist SEN equipment that is available to borrow on a medium to long term basis.

Some of our most popular items come from our Party Equipment range. Whether you are throwing a party in a community centre, garden or front room we have lots of exciting toys to put a smile on your young child’s face.

Why do people use mk:toy library?

The equipment we have is available to borrow at reasonable hire charges. You have to collect and bring back to Kiln Farm. We have years of experience at knowing what children enjoy, so we can advise you on getting the most out of the equipment.

History of mk:toy library

The toy library was established in 1986 but had a grand opening event in 2000 at Greenleys Community Centre with former actress and MP Glenda Jackson cutting the ribbon. Glenda was President of the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries. In April 2014 mk:toy library relocated to the offices of the Alliance at Kiln Farm due to a reduction in its funding and it is now managed by volunteers. In March 2015 mk:toy library introduced online booking for party equipment and then in September 2015 to online booking of Discovery Boxes.

Glenda Jackson MP opening the Toy Library in 2000

We want to provide the best possible service to local families, childminders, pre‑schools, nurseries and schools looking after children under five. Our mission statement is ‘To help children to succeed, create childcare that families need and to build learning communities’.

Visit www.mktoylibrary.co.uk which has an online catalogue of all our toys.

Volunteering at mk:toy library

We have two regular volunteers working in mk:toy library on a Thursday morning. The volunteers sort toys, prepare marketing materials and prepare party packs. If you could spare some time we would love to hear from you.

To use mk:toy library

Please note that we only accept cash or cheque payments as we do not have credit card facilities.

tel: 01908 263700
email: mktoylibrary.help@gmail.com

visit: On Thursdays 10.30am - 12pm (term time)

Milton Keynes Service Hub

Early Years Alliance (formerly the Pre-school Learning Alliance)
2 Burners Lane
Kiln Farm
MK11 3HB

Press the buzzer for mk:toy library to be let in and we are on the first floor. Unfortunately we are not very accessible so please don’t bring a pram. Children are the responsibility of their carers whilst visiting mk:toy library.

For directions to our library please click here

Picnic in the Park, Luton, Bedfordshire

 

 

This years event was due to take place on Wednesday 24 June 2020, but due to COVID19, we had to cancel for the first time ever in the event's history. However the team decided to still mark the day by inviting local childcare settings to have a picnic where they safely could and share their photos. The Central England Service Hub team hold a weekly team meeting on Teams and so I took a photo of the team enjoying a cuppa in their homes and gardens, and my colleague Jess Wilson at Flying Start Luton put together a collage of photos of the team enjoying their picnic's at home too. These were added to the photos Jess received from other childcare settings and we shared them on social media. 

Planning for PitP2021 will start soon and we will really look forward to seeing everyone there next year!

 

 


 

   

ABOUT OUR EVENT

Our massively popular annual community event, Picnic in the Park, held in Wardown Park, Luton, Bedfordshire, has been running for around 20 years, and was started by the Early Years Alliance's “Luton Branch” of member groups, who met for a picnic in Wardown Park. As the years passed, the event got bigger and bigger, and much more popular, so the branch asked the Alliance’s county office to organise it for them. By then event had turned into a community fete style event, where local childcare settings were invited to hold stalls to raise funds for their setting and to also provide a free activity for the children who attended.

In later years, we were able to secure sponsorship and organising support from the local authority, which were extremely welcoming, as by then the event was huge! Local partners and charities were also invited to promote their services in Luton. However in 2015, the Alliance became the sole organisers again, as our partners were unable to support us.

Each year we have a theme, and ask our stall holders to support the theme through either their stall or free activity. Previous themes have included Celebrating Fathers, Keep Luton Smiling (highlighting the importance of oral health), Keeping Luton Tidy and Communication and Language; Luton’s Little Voices, and last year was Think Safe, Stay Safe in Luton,  focusing on the prevention of accidents in the home and also when out and about. The theme was heavily supported by the Safe at Home, Luton, Scheme and in this year replaced their annual Safety Roadshow. We highlighted the key safety messages covered in the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s Child Safety Week (6-12 June 2016) which included warnings about the safety of e-cigarettes and refills, ensuring the same precautions are taken as with household cleaning products and medicines.

We largely self-fund the event from charging a stall fee and for car parking on the day (the event car park is in Popes Meadow, Old Bedford Road). There are a total of approximately 40 stalls, along with entertainment from a local children’s entertainer, Cheeky Dog, who has supported us for many years. Luton Library staff also provide regular story telling sessions, and Active Luton provide soft play facilities whilst promoting fitness programmes for all the family which is available in the town. Some of the stalls provide food, following our healthy eating guidelines. The fire service support us and bring along a pump for the children to explore, along with the police, who try to attend and have in the past brought a van with a cell in it, and great fun was had by all by locking children in!! The one and only time they will try this out!!

Feedback is collected each year following the event and every year our stall holders are amazed by how many families they are able to reach on the day, which they would normally never manage to do so.

In 2011 we also celebrated the 50th birthday of the Alliance, and in 2012 we were honoured to be joined by the Alliance’s CEO, Neil Leitch as our guest, he also managed to pop in last year after attending a local meeting, and in 2017 we were delighted to be joined by Dr Jason Wong from NHS England, the Vice Chair of the Healthy Teeth Happy Smiles Oral Health Promotion Partnership Board. 


Wednesday 26 June 2019 

The theme for our last event in 2019 was Think Active, Be Active’  and visitors to the event learnt about ways to engage as a family by thinking actively and being active in our every day life. We know that exercise helps our physical health but it also helps our mental health, and we invited families to join in with the fun activities on offer and to enjoy being outside in the beautiful surroundings of Wardown Park. There were lots of activities around the theme, including very active "Zumbini" taster sessions provided by Active Luton, and song time sessions from staff members from the Flying Start Children's Centres in Luton. We were joined by our key Flying Start partner agencies, who as well as activities, are here to provide information about services available to Luton families and local childcare settings. We also provided a free activity trail with a free prize to claim, and our entertainment programme also included very popular sessions from Cheeky Dog Entertainments, along standing supporter of our event, and story telling sessions from the lovely team at Luton Library.  

Luton’s Mayor, Cllr Tahir Malik opened the event and spend a lot of time walking around the 30+ stalls attending the event, talking to stall holders and learning about their organisations or settings. The event was also visited by Robin Porter, Chief Executive, Luton Council and Sophie Ross, Chair, Board of Trustees, Early Years Alliance who spent time walking around the event, and who both were incredibly impressed with the community spirit and positivity of both stall holders and families attending. 

We received lots of positive comments from families who attended the event, with many amazed by the amount of useful information available to them, and the variety and amount of fun, free activities for their children to participate in. Our stall holders were equally positive about how many families they were able to engage with and share information about their services or settings. The Library Service told us: "We received lots of positive comments about libraries. Bookstart books we gave out were gratefully received. Everyone seemed to enjoy our rhymetime sessions. We had some comments about our theatre shows for the under 5's which was great! There was lots of interest in the Summer Reading Challenge too. It was great to catch up with some families we had not seen in a while." 


 

Planning an early years event?

Read our blog on the Early Years Alliance's main website about planning an early years event.

Contact Us

Boy on toy phone

To enquire about our services or to see how we could support you, your setting or childcare service please contact:

Service Manager — Helen Middleton by email: helen.middleton@eyalliance.org.uk

2 Burners Lane

Kiln Farm

Milton Keynes

Bucks

MK11 3HB

Tel: 01908 263700

Email:centralengland@eyalliance.org.uk

Childcare

Central England Service Hub
2 Burners Lane
Kiln Farm
Milton Keynes
Bucks
MK11 3HB
United Kingdom
Tel: 01908 263700