Three innovative projects in Lewisham, Lambeth, and Haringey been awarded a total of £1,138,842 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop long term plans to help thousands of struggling parents give their children the best start in life.
Nearly three quarters of new mums (71%*) say they would like more support during pregnancy and the first years of their baby’s life according to research commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund.
The first three years of life can profoundly influence a child’s life chances and Big Lottery Fund is investing a total of £165 million to improve the futures of over 10,000 vulnerable babies across England. The investment, A Better Start, aims to improve the physical, emotional and psychological foundations built during a child’s first few years, the most rapid and important phase of their development.
From the 15 areas across England today awarded this development funding, the Fund will select up to 5 areas to receive a major investment of between £30 and £50 million to improve services over the life of the project.
Over the next ten years the initiative will gather evidence to demonstrate the benefit of support in the early years for children, society and the economy.
The Children’s Society are awarded £398,200 for an innovative project in Lewisham that will support parents with children under the age of three living in Evelyn, New Cross, Bellingham and Downham.
The project plans will include a village model, inspired by consultation with parents, stakeholders and experts, made up of four community cornerstones – the Home, the Well, the Marketplace and the Good Bank.
Working closely with local partnerships across the four wards the plan will be to give support to family relationships in the home, and provide both a virtual and physical hub where families and friends can meet for recreation and mutual support. It will also provide a marketplace of support services, and a bank of tried and trusted support resources including skills, knowledge and time.
The project plan hopes to address issues of domestic violence by providing early intervention to help support victims and their children, and also plans to commission specialist support around mental health and family breakdown.
The level of child poverty in Lewisham is significantly worse than the national average and health challenges in the local area include vitamin D deficiency- a well known cause of rickets in children, poor immunisation uptake, and high levels of physical disability and learning difficulties in children. The project aims to improve nutrition, social and emotional development, and communication and learning, which are fundamental to a great childhood and beyond.
Clare Brutton, The Children’s Society’s Development Manager for Lewisham, said:
“Securing Big Lottery Fund support would enable us to reshape local services, making a huge difference to the lives of children and their families growing up in Lewisham.
“Lewisham Village would create a vibrant hub where parents could share ideas, thoughts and feelings and be equipped with valuable knowledge and skills to help their children flourish.”
In Lambeth, National Children's Bureau (NCB) – are awarded £345,500 for The Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP).
LEAP will work in partnership across the areas of Coldharbour, Stockwell, Tulse Hill and Vassall to develop plans to further increase and improve access to a range of health and family support services to build strong, inclusive communities where getting it right for the most excluded will also benefit the whole community.
Creating an integrated public health and family services approach the LEAP also aims to change the behaviours of younger citizens, engaging young people in the development of preventative strategies as the potential next generation of parents. The LEAP approach targets prevention and early intervention, addressing poor mental health and issues of domestic violence.
One of the LEAP intentions is to develop parent and community champions who can build trust with other parents to ensure that every family has the opportunity to have a mentor or buddy recruited from the community, alongside the support of a key worker, midwife, health visitor or Family Nurse Practitioner. The project aims to provide support from antenatal stage to a child’s third birthday with schemes such as Family Nurse Partnership, Incredible Years and the Community Activity and Nutrition programme. During this development stage the project will be able to review further evidence based programmes and work with local partners and the community to determine which will be the best match for the target communities.
Dr Hilary Emery, CEO, The National Children’s Bureau said: “We are delighted to have been successful in getting to the next stage in this exciting project for Big Lottery Fund to change families lives by intervening early and preventing problems getting hold. We have been working together across the partnership to plan how we can use effective programmes to make a real difference to the lives of young children living in Lambeth.
Dr Hilary Emery continued, “We look forward to working closely with residents in the borough, local delivery partners, Lambeth Cooperative Council and Lambeth CCG, to ensure that children in their early years have access to the programmes that are proven to improve language and communication, social and emotional development and nutrition. Through a spirit of mutual co-operation and collaboration, we will work together with local residents to give children the best start in life and support families to flourish.”
Haringey will benefit from £395,142. The money has been awarded to established children’s charity Barnardo’s who is leading the partnership in the area.
The project serving the four wards of Bruce Grove, Northumberland Park, Tottenham Hale and White Hart Lane, aims to utilise and enhance community assets to transform the prospects and life-outcomes of local babies and children under three.
Bringing together knowledge, skills and experience from local support providers, the project plans to form a network capable of delivering programmes which are examples of best practice and innovation. The project will work closely with local authorities to develop breast feeding peer support and Early Years Community Champions. It also plans to expand services such as Babyworld antenatal classes, and improve communication and language for children contributing to school readiness. It will also address a need for family oriented safe play areas for children, and availability of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The project aims to ensure that new programmes will complement existing ones, providing mums-to-be and parents of babies and toddlers with a comprehensive menu of services to support them through pregnancy and their child’s early years.
Lynn Gradwell, Barnardo’s London Regional Director, said: “We are very much looking forward to working alongside the London Borough of Haringey and the Big Lottery Fund on this innovative programme. This is a vitally important opportunity to build on the support we offer to local people and to help transform the lives of young children and their families in the borough”.
Lord Robert Winston, Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, also backs The Fund’s investment.
He said: "Our earliest environment, even before birth, has a profound effect on our later lives. Our health, our educational attainment, our personality and our relationships are hugely influenced by what happens in the womb and particularly during those first three years of our lives as small children. Research shows the massive value of improving the quality of those earliest years. This welcome investment from the Big Lottery Fund means that we shall be able to help the most vulnerable babies get a better start – it is an important investment for the future of our society."
Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: “Sometimes parents do not always know what is best for their children despite wanting the best for them. If all parents knew that they could take steps in pregnancy and the first years of their child’s life to help them in later life by reducing the risks of getting heart disease or diabetes, helping them to achieve better grades in school or even improving their chances of a successful career, surely parents would want to know how. We know they want more support – 71 per cent of mothers say they do.
“Costly health and social problems can be traced back to some children not having a good start in life. A Better Start will aim to stop harm to a child before it happens by providing the right support in those crucial years between birth and the age of three. No mother wants to see their child end up in prison, suffer poor mental health or have no sense of self worth. Helping parents give their children the best possible start in life will not only have a positive impact on society but will also mean less costly spending treating entrenched problems later on.”
The Fund has been working with a number of experts in the field of early years, including Naomi Eisenstadt, former Director of the Sure Start Programme and Social Exclusion Task Force and Kate Billingham, an international advisor on children’s public health and George Hoskings, Chief Executive of the Wave Trust.
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Notes to Editors
• *71% of new mums want more support during pregnancy and their baby’s first years – a survey of 1,890 new mothers, (July 2013, Bounty - the parenting club).
• A child’s development at 22 months can serve as an accurate predictor of its educational outcomes when they are 26: Millennium Cohort Study by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
• Boys assessed by nurses at the age of three as being ‘at risk’ had two-and-a-half times as many criminal convictions as the group deemed ‘not to be at risk’ at age 21: From Child To Adult: The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (1996).
• A child’s physical, social and cognitive development during the early years strongly influences their school-readiness and educational attainment, economic participation and health.
Dyson A, Hertzman C, Roberts H, Tunstill J and Vaghri Z (2009) Childhood development, education and health inequalities. Report of task group.
• The development of early cognitive ability is strongly associated with later educational success, income and better health.
Fernstein L and Duckworth K (2006). Development in the Early Years, Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of learning, Research Report 20.
• Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are at significantly increased risk of developing conduct disorders that could lead to difficulties in all areas of their lives, including educational attainment, relationships and longer-term mental health.
NICE/SCIE (2006) Parent-training/education programmes in the management of children with conduct disorders. NICE technology appraisal guidance 102.
• The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
• The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 the Fund has awarded close to £6bn.
• The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
• Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.