Carmel Britto- LPF Kiddies Club CIC case study

Carmel runs LPF Kiddies Club, creating opportunities for children and young people to develop the functional and life skills needed to improve their life chances, eradicate poverty and break social immobility.

Carmel Britto

LPF Kiddies Club CIC started as a holiday club in 2013 and has since grown to include after-school provision, workshops, a summer school and community events. They currently work with 5-12 year olds.

Their work with parents covers safeguarding and parenting workshops, financial literacy courses, personal and professional development and family learning, to enable parents in “supporting their [children’s] educational journey.”

The club rely on grant funding and fundraising to subsidise the provisions they provide and were recipients of British Science Week Community Grants in 2016, 2017 and 2018 which they utilised to host community events and workshops for British Science week in each of these years

Carmel is the founding director of LPF Kiddies Club a provision she started and runs with her family. She is extremely passionate about the project and works as a volunteer within the club in both management and hands on roles. She said: “I think when you just love doing something you don’t realise how much time it takes and how much effort you put into it.”

During the first year of the grant, Carmel said that “the biggest challenge was getting myself into the frame of mind where I realise I’m not an amazing scientist and there is a limitation to what I can teach these children myself, where do I find the support to help me deliver the things I want to deliver?”

There was a lot of learning that went on among herself and the other volunteers in the run up to the event and she came to have a broader understanding of science and to see its implication in the every day.

What events did they run?

The club’s British Science Week events explicitly focused on identity with an underlying theme that children are ‘STEM heroes’ taking on a series of challenges to understand the world they live in and get more connected to scientists “who look like them, sound like them, come from their background.”

During the activities, children had to choose whether they were a scientist, an engineer, a technician or a mathematician. They had to say why and at the end to discuss why they still want to be in that group, what they’ve learnt and what jobs they could end up in if they were working in those fields.

The events, attended by 40-50 children, aimed to help expand children’s aspirations. According to Carmel, when she designed and facilitated the STEM Heroes programme and events her  aim was “for them to understand that they can go on into these careers and be these scientists that they didn’t think they could be,” particularly in relation to race, gender and class. She said “representation matters and it is important that children from BME and disadvantaged backgrounds get to see that there are scientist who look like them, sound like them and come from the places they come from currently working and studying within the field of STEM and that they too could be one day”

How did the British Science Week Community Grant help?

The first British Science Week grant in 2016 helped LPF Kiddies Club to explore new ways of introducing STEM to the club’s children whilst allowing them to see the connection between science and their everyday lives. Subsequent grants enabled them to introduce new areas of study to LPF Kiddies Club’s provision including coding and robotics. .

From that, Carmel says: “We realised there was a lot of interest among the club families to be able to take part in interactive STEM based activities, which was amazing. The children and the families really wanted it. They needed something like that.”

Last year they were commissioned by British Science Week to run a six-week science club with £500 funding supporting their desire to move away from ‘one-off events’.  In order to improve upon her knowledge base and source potential speakers and workshop facilitators for the STEM Heroes programmes and events Carmel set about to develop connections with other science led organisations and institutions.   She made contact with Imperial College and UCL and has since gone on to work with UCL on other workshops and projects. This is an example of how LPF Kiddies Club have developed networks, in particular, with black science communities.

Representation is important but “we had very few connections to black scientists and so we took to social media to help us expand our network ” said Carmel.

After putting a call out on Twitter for support, Carmel was ‘inundated’ with responses. She said: “We’ve managed to build a lot of really good connections on the back of that. It’s meant that we’ve got into a lot of conversations with a lot of people in industry as well which is helpful for understanding how we can reshape our provision.”

After BSW, Carmel has tried to maintain the momentum for the club children through extend learning, homework and competitions. This has included children conducting activities at home such as filming an experiment using household ingredients based on lessons learnt within workshops delivered during club events or designing comics based on STEM Heroes.

Discussing her identity now, she explains “I wouldn’t say I see myself as a scientist, but I do see myself as an enthusiast.”

Do you work for a community group working alongside groups who are under-represented or don’t typically engage with science? Apply for a British Science Week community grant.