The Red Balloon Foundation is an evolving charity, with a main aim to support children and young people to thrive. Already well established within Greater London, Epping Forest and Harlow; the Christian Charity have continued to adapt their outreach programmes to support families in Essex during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are delighted to award the Red Balloon Foundation with February’s One in a Million Award.
In 2019, Active Essex were able to support local Holiday Hunger programmes, led by different charities and organisations across the county. The Red Balloon Foundation succeeded in establishing the programme in Epping Forest, Ongar and Limes farm, and created opportunities for families to take part in physical activities, STEM activities, lunch preparation and games together.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic saw an emerging and pressing challenge for the charity, as their outreach work and local after-school support sessions were halted. As more families were in need of help and resources due to the hardships they faced as a result of the coronavirus measures in place, the charity needed to adapt. It was for this reason the ‘Boxes of Hope’ programme was launched.
Boxes of Hope, created by the Red Balloon Foundation, with support from Active Essex and local volunteers, contained essentials such as: food and recipes, toiletries, activity packs and educational material. The boxes were extremely popular in Harlow, with 100 boxes being delivered throughout April and May – 75 of which were referrals from the NHS and Social Care; the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and other local charities and organisations. Following this, the charity had received £7000 of DEFRA funding to support the distribution of more boxes to more families in need of support in the area.
As restrictions eased and safety measures were introduced in May of last year, Red Balloon, along with Active Essex, were able to hold sporting opportunities and physical activity sessions for young people. The charity were successful in receiving Tackling Inequalities funding and hosted tennis sessions in the Epping Forest Areas of Nazeing, Ongar, Ninefields, Limes Farm and Debden. This programme is still ongoing and has so far supported 50 young people in getting active and developing future activity sessions for them, but sessions are on hold at the moment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Luke Lowrie, the Director of Red Balloon Foundation in Epping Forest, received our Essex Activity Hero Award for the outstanding work he and the team continued to do throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring vulnerable children and families were able to eat healthily and keep active.
Courtenay Mosley, Active Essex Assistant Relationship Manager for West Essex said: “Luke and the team at the Red Balloon Foundation have been a lifeline for many families during a difficult year and have found new ways to deliver support to families and young people that need it. Throughout the last 12 months, by providing different family food or activity boxes and adapting detached youth work and face to face activities, they have been able to continue their great work within the Epping Forest and Harlow communities.”
This year, the Red Balloon Foundation will continue to provide support for families in the community through their own outreach programmes and detached youth work, along with supporting the wider Essex Holiday Food Support. This February Half Term, they will be providing 100 Morrison food boxes in the Epping Forest area, and will also be supporting the Keep Essex Active virtual timetable with their arts and crafts sessions throughout the week.
For more information about the Red Balloon Foundation, see below:
Facebook – The Red Balloon Family Foundation
Twitter – redballoonfam
Instagram – redballoonfamily