The three organisations to receive the largest awards to develop projects are The Pre-school Alliance, Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society.
Next year, five of the 15 areas in England that are being funded will be chosen to receive investments of between £30-£50m over the next ten years to develop their programmes and gather evidence to show the benefit of early years support for children, society and the economy.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘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.’
Projects in Luton and Southend led by the Pre-school Learning Alliance will receive a total of £579,260 in funding. In Luton the Alliance will team up with local voluntary and community organisations, the local authority and health teams to deliver services around nutrition and diet, communication and language, and social and emotional well-being. The project aims to improve children’s outcomes by prioritising positive parenting.
In Southend on Sea the funding will go towards developing a centre of excellence for practitioners and volunteers integrated with mother and infant services. The centre will be stocked with resources such as communication-friendly nursery equipment like backward-facing buggies. Mothers will be provided with a voucher for a Baby Box starter kit and vouchers for swimming and baby gym.
James Courtney, executive councillor for children and learning from Southend Borough Council, said, ‘We are delighted to have progressed to stage 2 with this exciting and innovative decision for transformation of services. This is a unique opportunity to focus on prevention as a partnership, and improve outcomes and life chances for pregnant women, babies, young children and their families.’
Barnardo’s has been awarded a total of £1,028,137 for three projects. They include funding for 35 local support assistants to deliver ante-natal support to around 900 pregnant women a year. Expectant fathers will also be offered support. There are also plans to facilitate breast-feeding support and healthy eating projects, including a healthy eating van, which will provide low cost and free meals to some families.
The Children’s Society has received a total of £797,500 to support families in Lewisham and Greater Manchester.
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.’
The project hopes to tackle domestic violence by supporting victims and their children, and also plans to commission specialist support around mental health and family breakdown.
Nat Sloane, chair of the Big Lottery Fund England, 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 later in 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 successful career, surely parents would want to know how. We know they want more support – 71 per cent of mothers say they do.’
The following organisations have also been awarded grants: the National Children’s Bureau, Children North East, NSPCC, Family Action, Sheffield Cubed, Bradford Trident and Nottingham Citycare Partnership CIC.
- More information http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/