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Big Lottery Fund grants to improve lives of vulnerable young children

Article By: Laura McCardle, News Editor

The Big Lottery Fund has announced a £5m investment to help thousands of parents give their infants the best possible start in life.

The cash, from the organisation’s ‘A Better Start’ initiative, will be shared between 15 areas in England, including projects in Nottingham, Newcastle and Bradford, after 71 per cent of new mums said they feel need more support during pregnancy and the first few years of their baby’s life.

According to the Big Lottery Fund, the first three years of life has a huge impact on a child’s future and the investment aims to improve physical, emotional and physical foundations built during those crucial early years to ensure live as happily and healthily as possible.

Commenting on the investment, 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.”

One of the projects to benefit from funding is one led by the Pre-School Learning Alliance, which wants to develop plans for a centre of excellence for professionals and volunteers in Southend-on-Sea. A total of £199,260 has been awarded to the Alliance to deliver the initiative, which will integrate mother and infant services and target families living in the Kursaal, Milton, Shoeburyness, Victoria, West Shoebury and Westborough areas of the town.

Commenting on the project, Councillor James Courtney, member for children and learning at Southend Borough Council, said: “This is a unique opportunity to focus on prevention as a partnership, and improve the outcomes and life chances for pregnant women, babies, young children and their families.

“This builds on Southend’s strong track record of successful partnership working and presents an excellent opportunity for communities in Southend to develop, shape and influence positive change and take control of their families lives, with raised aspiration for their children’s future.”


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