Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) have been awarded a contract to continue delivering community engagement services for A Better Start Southend.

The contract, potentially lasting up to five-years, will be delivered through SAVS’ Turning Tides team and was awarded following a competitive tendering process with a number of potential service providers expressing an interest.

The new contract awarded to SAVS builds on the work they have done since first becoming the engagement partner in January 2017 and recognises SAVS’ experience in providing effective community engagement services across the Borough. The focus over the coming years will be to build on existing engagement services, meaning families have a more effective role in A Better Start Southend’s work.

The engagement services to be provided by SAVS will form part of a wider community engagement strategy which will be developed by A Better Start Southend over the next year.

A core focus will be on increasing the number of volunteer ‘Parent Champions’, with over 30 trained so far, and the number set to increase still further over the next five years.

Parent Champions are fully-trained and provided with the support and resources they need to best represent local parents’ voices, bringing parental experience and knowledge to the programme. They take part in governance meetings, research groups and panels, helping co-design and co-produce children services. This voice can also be heard through a communications group, promoting the programme through newsletters, social media, TV and public meeting appearances.

The continued engagement work will help bring even more families on board with the programme, with 637 people engaging through parent-led engagement events alone over the past 12 months, an increase of almost 450% from the previous year. The parent-led events encourage families new to the programme to take part in free fun activities, such as storytelling, healthy eating workshops, interactive parent and baby classes and creative outdoor sessions.

“We had a number of potential providers take part in the tender process, but it was the excellent work and future proposals from SAVS which made them the best choice to deliver our engagement contract moving forwards. We are very much looking forward to developing our work with them over the coming months and years, helping families to have a real say in the services that are developed across Southend.” Jeff Banks, Director, A Better Start Southend

“We are delighted to have been awarded this contract, allowing us to continue to support the hundreds of parents we have met so far and introduce many more new families to the work of A Better Start Southend. We are particularly excited about developing opportunities for the Parent Champions and providing more local parents with a platform to help change their children’s future.” Anthony Quinn, Deputy CEO for SAVS

If you are interested in becoming a Parent Champion or getting involved with the work of A Better Start Southend please call 01702 356069 or email:

(Photo: A Better Start Southend Parent Champions, children and SAVS staff at the Thank You event at Porters Civic House and Mayors Parlour, October 2018)

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