This guest blog has been written by Charlotte Pearson-Miles, VIVA Doorsteps Partnerships Manager on behalf of the Oxon Early Years Network.

Together with Katharine Barber, CEO of Home Start Oxford, I had the privilege of launching a new countywide Early Years network on Thursday 22nd October. We plan to run regular virtual networking and training get-togethers and will also be sending out a newsletter each month – here’s the most recent! The EY network feeds back into the Oxfordshire Children & Young People’s Forum and also to the Children’s Trust Board.

We were delighted to have 38 participants at our first Zoom get-together. Having been slightly nervous about hosting our first Zoom meeting, we were so pleased with all the positive feedback. “I just wanted to congratulate you both on yesterday’s launch which…managed to combine broad participation with some deep dive detail. It was impressive and bodes well for this much needed initiative.”

One wonderful thing about Zoom is that practitioners from right across the county were able to join together. The meeting started with some Menti questions so that everybody’s voice could be heard.

Menti wordclouds were followed by all 38 participants introducing themselves briefly then we were treated to a presentation by Hayley Hayle of Botley Bridges, who has been an absolute inspiration to the EY sector, finding innovative ways to continue supporting families with 0-5s throughout lockdown, and beyond.

We’re excited about future get-togethers and the potential they have to build the connections, strength and profile of groups for parents and 0-5s right across Oxfordshire. We’re also delighted about 2 recent pieces of good news:

  1. that the Government has recognised the importance of allowing such support groups to continue through the November lockdown so long as Covid guidelines are followed and numbers don’t exceed 15. More information here.
  2. Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside. This will mean that a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children.

If you have anything you’d like included in our next EY newsletter, please send relevant items to [email protected] by the 18th November. The same email address can be used to request a Zoom link for our next virtual get-together.