On a Wednesday morning I pull off the M11 and drive through an area of Cambridge I have often referred to as “Jurassic Park”, where the cranes have been part of the skyline for the last few years as this area has been developed. However, the cranes have gone, the buildings are open and communities have begun to form. It is for this reason that I am here. As people have moved in a diverse range of nationalities, ages and social groups have been put together - but what is there for them to do?
I was blessed to experience one of the activities that takes place in the Clay Farm Community Centre – Hands on the Circle – or more commonly known as “HonC!”.
Set up as part of the Children’s and Family work out of St. Mary and St Michael (Trumpington). The sun is shining and there is the odd combination of the sound of crockery, bean bags and moving chairs as I enter the space: it is Helen Bell (Church and Community Families Outreach Worker) and two volunteers who are setting up the rooms. There is a refreshment station – a place to “fill up your emotional cup” - a soft play area and in the larger room multiple activities including a playdough station, play cooking area, tunnels, and a language table where all ages, including adults, can learn English and participate in English conversation.
At ten o’clock people start to arrive, I sit and observe the slow flow of people, as it gets to about 20 children with their adults I think – wow! I go and start to talk with people at the refreshments station, on returning to the larger room I am amazed how quickly it has changed from a room full of activities to now being almost full with a hubbub of multiple languages and ages. A real communion of people; an intergenerational mix of parents/grandparents and carers, sharing stories, a space to reflect on their own week as they journey alongside their children.
By this time there are around 70 people present, including 40+ babies and toddlers. At eleven o’clock families are encouraged to tidy up the space and move in to the smaller room where Helen welcomes everyone gathered, starting with the Fischy song ‘We’re altogether again’. This is followed by about 20 minutes of songs, actions and stories, with young and old participating as they feel comfortable. It is a great end of a beautiful morning; a true example of engaging with the needs of our communities.
So what is Hands on the Circle (HonC!)?
A group of parents and carers in Cambridge who are dedicated to being the best parents they can be by supporting each other.
HonC! stands for Hands on the Circle. It's just a way of saying that, as parents and carers, we want to be there and support our children in all of their needs.
At HonC!, we aim to be a place of welcome and exploration. A place for parents and carers and children to enjoy being together; to delight in our successes in parenting and to support in our struggles.
We’ll have stories, songs, toys and crafts. Something for everyone!
When & Where do they meet?
HonC! complements Circle of Security Parenting. COS-P is an eight-week parenting course that offers a user-friendly map of attachment theory. The course helps caregivers to reflect. It highlights the importance of their relationship with their child in helping them to grow to be secure and confident. Helen offers COS-P courses regularly throughout the year.
How do I find out more?