Alphington Community Association’s story

Exeter Community Initiatives’ Exeter Connect project was instrumental in helping Alphington Community Association (ACA) restart its Baby and Toddler group which unfortunately had to close during the Covid pandemic.

Exeter Community Initiatives’ (ECI) Exeter Connect project facilitates and develops community groups, providing bespoke, professional support, events and networking opportunities.

Early in 2023, Exeter Connect was invited to administer an NHS grant totalling £21,658 to help local organisations facing winter pressures.

ACA received £1000 to restart its much-needed Baby and Toddler group which runs out of Alphington Community Centre. The funding helped cover the rent and first years’ insurance allowing the group to gradually grow without any major financial implications.

After initial input from Kath Sidgwick (from ACA) and Claire Porter (Alphington’s Community Builder who is mentored and managed by Exeter Community Initiatives in partnership with Wellbeing Exeter), the leadership of the group was undertaken by Sam (one of the mums) who kindly organised the other parents to help and support the group.

Much of the group’s previous equipment was reusable but some items were in need of replacement so part of the grant money was used to buy new toys, a blue-tooth system for mini-disco sessions and new carpets for the baby area. Weekly costs for snacks and drinks were also subsidised until the group was economically viable.

Kath Sidgwick from ACA, said: “The Baby and Toddler group restarted in February when it was bitterly cold yet despite the inclement weather we had lots of interest which was really encouraging. The group has steadily grown to accommodate as many as 15 families, so lots of children are playing together in a safe environment overlooked by caring parents, in a fantastic facility. With increased new housing in the Alphington area we can only anticipate that this need will increase. We are really grateful to ECI’s Exeter Connect project for turning our application around so quickly.”

Dawn Eckhart from ECI’s Exeter Connect, said: “It was a very short turnaround from us first hearing about the grant to the date by which it needed to be spent. However, we were able to turn the process around quickly, completing our assessments of Alphington’s Baby and Toddler Group, and 15 other grant applications from various local organisations, in just a couple of weeks.

“Alphington Baby and Toddler group is flourishing and is much appreciated in the community. With the support of ACA, it’s great to see how parents have taken on the responsibility for running it and making it the success it is today.”

The Alphington Baby and Toddler group is held on Wednesday mornings, 9 – 11am at Alphington Community Centre.