Our partnership with Southend parents took another big step forward at the end of April with the launch of the first ever Better Start Southend Ward Panel at Cambridge Road Children’s Centre bringing together people from the Victoria, Milton and Westborough communities

The panels, which operate across the six Better Start Southend wards, bring together a wide range of local expertise, with community and statutory organisations as well as our new Parent Champions, discussing key issues that have been raised at the initial Parents Forums. The panels can award small sums of money to fund new ideas which have been raised by parents and are designed to improve some aspect of local life for the under-4s and their families. They will also be an important way to air ideas and suggestions that the wider Better Start programme might be able to pick up.

Panels are being developed under the expert guidance of a team from Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS), who are helping them become self-sustaining so that they can be led by local parents.

The coming months will see the first meeting of the Kursaal panel (this month) and the West Shoebury and Shoeburyness panel (in July). Each of the panels will meet every two months.

Gary May, Better Start Southend’s Interim Programme Manager, who attended the first Ward Panel explains: “The Better Start Southend Ward Panels are an opportunity to provide a link between parents, service providers and budget holders, and a great environment for Southend parents and professionals to work together to develop better services for parents and their children.”

If you would like to find out more about how the Ward Panels operate, get in touch with the SAVS Better Start Team on abss@savs-southend.co.uk or 01702 356069.

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