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Anna Freud National Centre Champions create a sense of community

Recently, Anna Freud National Centre Parent and Young Champions came together with residents of England's Lane Hostel to celebrate a creative project which has transformed an unused room at the residence into a vibrant community hub.


Certainly, living in temporary accommodation can be challenging; there isn’t much space available and families can find themselves living in quite crowded surroundings. We know this can have a significant impact on parents and children’s emotional wellbeing. 

So, when our Parent Champion, Vera, and her son saw that there was a room at England’s Lane that wasn’t being used to its full potential, she approached us with an idea to set up a Participation Project. Her hopes were to refresh the room and turn it into a safe and welcoming area for families at the hostel to use and enjoy.

Vera said:

"I started this project to empower my children and other families in England's Lane by using my time in a meaningful way and to rebuild a sense of community where I could also capture and use my children's own creativity and love for books!".

The Centre’s Participation Team joined forces with Vera and her son to map out a strategy to makeover the room. As part of the revamp, we wanted to create a feature wall and enlisted the help of Selwa, one of our very talented Young Champions, to design a mural for the room. 

Residents at the hostel came up with themes for the mural which included: books, friends and family, feeling connected, the importance of community and nature. Lots of families at the hostel joined in to help paint the wall and we had lots of fun creating the mural together.


Selwa said:

"Designing, drawing and painting the mural were challenges for me as they were outside my creative comfort zone. However, with the help of Nick and Salma from the Anna Freud National Centre and residents of the hostel, I felt confident enough to try my best, and I'm happy that all of our efforts and enthusiasm paid off in the end."

We celebrated the finished result with a launch event in April. There was a great sense of community with many residents joining Vera and Selwa in the celebrations. Residents were able to get involved with activities and the hand printing station proved very popular, with children (and parents!) getting stuck in and painting their handprints on the wall.


Thanks to the collective hard work and dedication of the group we were able to add life and colour to the England’s Lane room and provide residents with much needed extra space and we’re delighted to announce that the project won’t stop here.

In the words of Vera, families at the hostel are getting together to ‘make England’s Lane great!’. Residents are working to ensure the new room is used to its full potential and have started a community-led book exchange programme and homework club. Vera reflected:

"Home is what we make of it no matter how little or much you may or may not have. Home is the person you are."


If you are a parent or young person and you would like to get involved in participation projects such this one, we would love to hear from you! Email us at