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Case study: Thriving Places Family Meal and Homework Club
When the head teacher of Dalmarnock Primary in Glasgow heard about an innovative idea to tackle the challenges of homework support and food poverty, she grabbed it with both hands.
The Thriving Places Family Meal and Homework Club – funded by Clyde Gateway, Thriving Places, PEEK and Health Improvement – offers parents the chance to learn how to cook healthy family meals, while their children are supported with their homework and take part in active play sessions.
The idea, originally conceived in 2014 by the Thriving Places team, has grown into a flourishing weekly community event that takes place in Bridgeton Community Learning Centre.
The Club now also welcomes pupils from a neighbouring school, Sacred Heart Primary, taking the number of registered users to 100.
Every Tuesday, straight after school, families and teachers head down to the Bridgeton Community Learning Centre where they are met with a friendly face and the offer of a snack. The children relax and play for a while before sitting down to do their homework, with support from their teachers. After homework is done, PEEK – a local play organisation – takes the children outside for active play. Even their pre-school siblings can join in, thanks to staff from London Road Nursery.
In the meantime, their parents, grandparents or guardians are benefitting from cookery classes, where they have fun and socialise while learning healthy new recipes. At the end of the club the children, parents and staff all sit down and eat their creations together.
“When the idea for the club first came about, we absolutely jumped at it,” said Nancy Clunie, Head Teacher at Dalmarnock Primary School. “It’s so inclusive, and I love the buzz and laughter. When I look around I see parents and pupils from different schools and different cultures coming together and making friends. The children are happier trying new things when they see their classmates doing it, and it also encourages the parents to try cooking things they maybe wouldn’t have thought of cooking before. It’s just a fabulous community event.”
Parent Margaret Wood volunteers at the club, helping with the cookery class while 11-year-old daughter Charley and 10-year-old son James get help with their homework. Her eldest daughter Jamie-Lee, who is at secondary school, also comes along to help out with the younger children. Margaret said: “We’re one big happy family here. Everyone gels and helps each other. The kids love it. You don’t need to nag at them to do their homework, they look forward to it, because they are all doing it together. The recipes are simple and quick, so it’s easy to recreate them at home.”
“It doesn’t just help with homework and healthy eating, it also helps build relationships and trust,” explained Neil Orr, Community Organiser for Glasgow Community Planning Partnership and project lead for the club. “People open up to each other at the club and have conversations that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. Parents are becoming more involved with the schools as a result – Dalmarnock Primary now has a parent council for the first time in years because parents suddenly have the confidence to come into the school.”
“The really great thing is that the idea is now being copied elsewhere. People are asking us about how it works, asking to come along and see it in action, and then going off and recreating it in other places, which is just wonderful.”