Community Linking: The Invention Rooms

At West London Zone, every child participates in their own tailored package of support over a period of at least two years. Often, this means that we commission specialist support from charities directly to complement the work of our Link Workers. However, part of our mission as a place-based charity is to ensure that all the assets that exist in this community are accessed by all who would benefit from them. Accordingly, we also ‘link’ children to additional opportunities locally, which we think might be beneficial (or which they simply might enjoy).

“Linking” is a more active form of what is often called “signposting”- the difference being that we will not only introduce the opportunity to a child, but explain the benefits of participating, connect those benefits to longer term plans we have co-designed with the child, attend the sessions alongside children/families, and ensure that engagement is sustained through to the end.

One recent example of such “linking” is our relationship with the Invention Rooms, part of Imperial College London’s new White City campus. The Invention Rooms are Imperial’s "front door to the community", showcasing a variety of tools such as 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters, woodworking equipment and more. The unique immersive environment provides young people with a space to experiment, design and innovate, with one of these rooms, the ‘Reach Out Makerspace’, specifically dedicated to hands-on activities aimed at engaging school children creatively in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Usually, Makerspace programmes are open to all children and young people aged from 14-18. Children pick anything they want to make and the programme leaders help them make them (last year, one student won the competition by making a pair of shoes with bluetooth speakers in them, with every step providing the kinetic energy to power the speakers). But Makerspace staff have created a dedicated programme especially for WLZ children aged 11-14 year olds, meaning that our children can get an early taste of what a future in engineering/design might look like! Early experience suggests that it might include 3D printed octopuses (as in the photo above). We can’t wait to see what our children come up with.

together, every child and young person can flourish.