Edinburgh Local

Dr Bell’s Family Centre

Dr Bell’s Family Centre aims to be a welcoming place where families with young children in Leith can get encouragement, support and advice in a relaxed atmosphere.

Dr Bell’s Family Centre

Dr Bell’s Family Centre aims to be a welcoming place where families with young children in Leith can get encouragement, support and advice in a relaxed atmosphere. Their services are for everyone, focusing on the most disadvantaged, ensuring families can access the services without stigma. Their crèche facility is key to the success of the Centre. It allows parents to attend groups and appointments, supports families facing challenging circumstances through the provision of regular crèche spaces and offers a drop-in facility for all local families. 


Funding History

Dr Bell’s Family Centre has successfully received two rounds of grant funding under the Community Grants scheme. This includes one substantive grant and one Covid-19 micro-grant. Funded projects include a mindfulness wild swimming programme and an activity-based programme to reduce social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Project Impacts

(2019) Dr Bell’s Mindfulness Dip: The Mindfulness Dip programme supports families with their mental health and wellbeing through group wild swimming. Five free crèche places were provided for any children aged 0-5 for the duration of the two-hour sessions. Parents were able to fully relax and benefit from some rare time for themselves, safe in the knowledge that their children were being cared for by qualified childcare professionals. Time was provided after the dip for hot drinks and a fire, allowing opportunities for reflection, discussion, mindfulness, yoga, affirmation and intention setting, and mutual support.  

Following extremely positive feedback from the participants, Dr Bell’s Family Centre has continued to run the group even after the funding expired. They have since been granted an additional 6 months’ funding to operate the Mindfulness Dip until the end of 2022 with aims to make it a permanent fixture. 


“Thanks to funding from the University of Edinburgh’s Local Community Grants Scheme, we have been able take our Mindfulness Dip group from its Pilot stage in 2021 to a regular weekly group throughout 2022. Our wild swimming group has given us a unique opportunity to develop our methods for supporting parental mental health and wellbeing through the natural environment we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. We have had excellent feedback from participants, including how invigorated, relaxed and proud they feel after taking to the cold Edinburgh seas. After swimming we sit around a fire with a hot drink and snacks and reflect on how we felt about the experience. We write our thoughts and feelings in journals, as well as intentions and positive affirmations to prepare for the week ahead. We also invite guest speakers to offer insight on topics such as meditation, healthy eating, yoga, and sea safety.” 


(2020) Keeping Connected (Covid-19): This project, designed to improve mental health and increase the sense of community, provided wraparound support for parents who were lonely and isolated during the first lockdown. Materials such as mindfulness packs, yoga mats, art packs and food boxes were delivered to participating families leading to an improvement in mental health of parents, children they work with (under 5s), partners and older siblings.   

This project has affirmed strong community interest in each activity, and as a result the activities have continued beyond funding – now offered in person. The centre has continued with food deliveries as well as mindfulness packs, and offer a free weekly cooking session and community lunch. 


“For families with children under 5 living in Leith, the Keeping Connected programme has been a lifeline. We know this because parents have let us know how important it has been to them to have routine, structure and something to look forward to each week. Parents have told us how taking a moment to themselves whilst children were napping to participate in yoga sessions or work through mindfulness packs supported their mental health.”



Both funded projects under the Community Grants Scheme have sustained a shelf life beyond original grant funding, ensuring that Dr Bell’s Family Centre can continue to provide support and services to families in the local area.