The past 12 months have seen some great strides by A Better Start Southend and we are now entering 2018 with projects like Let’s Talk, HENRY, Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) and Co-production running successfully and more to follow as the year progresses. It was a positive year for the programme, and there were a number of highlights…

The start of the year saw the beginning of our Talking Tiddlers and Talking Toddlers courses from our Let’s Talk project. Over the last year almost 200 children have benefited from the different courses, with six courses now running as well as new Talking Walk Ins which are starting at the beginning of 2018.

Dozens of parents benefited from our Work Skills project over 2017, and the start of the year saw our first parent gaining employment through the project. HENRY training for practitioners began in the summer and we have more HENRY courses running in 2018. Our first Dad Lab for those with an interest in fatherhood took place at the end of autumn with Fathers Reading Every Day and we have also undertaken a number of key research pieces including a Community Survey with research experts NatCen.

Our refocus on the diet and nutrition strategy last year led to new diet and nutrition projects being agreed and our updated Service Design process being established. We had a successful first Service Design Day in August, with the first new projects now agreed and having also gone through the tender process. Look out for new projects on Breastfeeding Support and Introducing Nutritious Foods starting in the spring!

We also had an opportunity to showcase the new diet and nutrition strategy and all the projects we are running as well as our new home in the heart of Southend in our stakeholder showcase event in September.

2017 was a year of firsts in our co-production work with SAVS, engaging parents and professionals equally in the work that we do. The spring was a particularly active time for this with our first Parent Champions trained, the first Ward Panels and Parent Forums taking place. May saw the Engagement Fund beginning, allowing parents to put actions in place to bring more families into the ABSS fold. Parent Forums and Ward panels are now up and active in all six ABSS wards.

So all in all there was plenty to be excited about in 2017 and look out for plenty more in 2018!


Article published January 2018

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