Square Start is a project led by BRAG Enterprises and co delivered with Fife Gingerbread to provide family friendly activities, events, workshops and support for families in the Levenmouth Area. Launched in September 2019 and funded by Aspiring Communities: Scottish Government funding matched with European funding. The project is unique as sessions are held mornings, afternoons and evenings in order to suit the demands of family life. The project aims to reduce social isolation by supporting parents with budgeting workshops, cooking and nutritional skills and health and wellbeing.

Our experience has taught us that families living in poverty tend to also live in a life of chaos and deprivation with many of these households struggling to just keep their head above water. The poverty that they live in may have been influenced by poor life choices, but they are more likely to have been held back by a poverty of opportunity.

This service is aimed at local families including children, parents and wider family members, residing in the Levenmouth area. Those areas are listed in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and are being made up off predominantly workless households, those battling fuel and food poverty, lone parents, those affected by addiction issues and households where there are low levels of workers in the family and/or there is a higher level of in work poverty. This service is targeted within the local community via Community Learning and Development teams, Welfare Reform Action Groups, schools, nurseries, local charities including food and clothing banks with the activities offered as part of the project having been designed with input from all these groups.

As part of this process BRAG will look to provide direction, guidance and support to the families involved through assessing the level of need, creating a bespoke action plan, working through the key components to achieve the end goals with a fluid and flexible approach to allow for change in the families circumstances. This consistent review and refresh approach ensures that the service fits the client rather than the client fits the service. The aim is to progress the family members into a variety of group activities to end social isolation and create new relationships and peer support.

BRAG understand there are ongoing issues of homelessness, poor mental health, long term illness, addiction and financial worries amongst this target group and we will continue to work alongside dedicated professionals to help to address these issues. It is the aim of Brag to create a transferrable model of activity that can be rolled out over our other areas of delivery to support those communities to reach their full potential. BRAG recognise that this approach will not be a short fix rather an ongoing challenge to support future generations to grow and aims to target those children currently living in poverty and adverse conditions to aspire to a better future.

Square start is the first project to offer full family support, they run weekly Bookbug sessions which are open to all, family nights and family fitness sessions for registered families. These families have also benefitted from mindfulness sessions and January 2020 will see the launch of New Year New You programme. This will see the group focussing on ‘good habits’ like healthy eating and keeping fit and active with a focus on positive lifestyle choices.