On the 8th March 2022, Anna Firth, MP for Southend West met with A Better Start Southend Director, Jeff Banks, ABSS Parent Champions and staff at the Families Growing Together hub located at the Trustlinks Community Garden in Westcliff-on-Sea.


The A Better Start Southend ‘Families Growing Together’ project is located at The Trustlinks sites at both Westcliff-on-Sea and Shoebury. It offers families living within ABSS wards the opportunity to take part in activities such as creative workshops and cookery sessions, and enjoy the outdoors together.


Anna Firth learned about the work of A Better Start Southend first-hand from parents engaged in the programme whilst enjoying family playtime in the sandpit. She was taken on a short tour of the garden, which includes a storytelling area, a chicken coop, and beehives.


A Better Start Southend is a ten-year National Lottery Funded programme which stated in 2015, that seeks to make Southend the best place in which to have and raise a child. In addition to gearing about the successes the programme has achieved, Anna heard about developing proposals to expand the programme across Southend and extend it beyond the 10 year period of Lottery funding.


Anna Firth MP said:


“It was a pleasure to meet the team at A Better Start Southend today and hear about their amazing work supporting local families and services. I got into politics to campaign for a better start for children and believe passionately that the way to do this is not only through investment in early years services and schools, but also by tapping into the huge resources represented in our wonderful local community.


“The Parent Champions I met at A Better Start Southend today are an excellent example of how to do this, and I will do all I can to support them, and the team at A Better Start Southend, with securing a long-lasting, sustainable legacy which will see the work continue into long into the future. Building on the work A Better Start Southend has done with local parents and partners, we will continue to work to make Southend-on-Sea the best place in the country to have and raise children.”


ABSS Director, Jeff Banks said:


“With the real challenges parents are facing at this time, it is now more than ever, essential that we ensure the work ABSS has built over the last seven years is to expand and continue long into the future. We are incredibly grateful to Anna Firth MP, who clearly understands how important this work is and has a great passion for early years health, education and family support. We look forward to working with Anna as we take this work forwards”.


The ABSS partners will be meeting on 21st April to agree the next steps for the programme including a comprehensive ‘Legacy and Sustainability Strategy’ which will put in place the fundraising and business development work ABSS and its partners need to ensure the programme is able to continue and grow.


For more information about the ABSS Families Growing Together project at Trustlinks, visit https://abetterstartsouthend.co.uk/families-growing-together