The countdown clock is ticking for our first ever family-friendly conference on 11th April in collaboration with the University of Essex. Our ‘Who’s the Expert?‘ conference will explore best practice in engaging families in the design and delivery of the services they use. We still have free tickets available for what promises to be a fantastic event, so be sure to register for your free ticket ahead of the day!

Held at a fantastic venue, South East Essex College, the conference gives attendees the opportunity to hear from an fantastic range of key note speakers, attend the exciting selection of workshops held by parents and professionals in the industry, and explore the enjoyable range of family activities jointly-led by parents and local organisations throughout the day.

Key Note Speakers:

  • Parent Champions – A Better Start Southend
  • Jeff Banks, Director – A Better Start Southend
  • Joanna Ruffle, Strategic Director (Transformation) – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
  • Sarah Drummond, Co-founder and Director – We are Snook
  • Tim Hobbs PhD, Director – Dartington Service Design Lab
  • Professor Pamela Cox, Department of Health and Social Care – University of Essex
  • Dr Danny Taggart, Department of Health and Social Care – University of Essex


Hear our voice: How the parent voice can help enhance the services
A Better Start Southend Parent Champions will share their experiences in a ‘Question Time’-style panel. Hear the voice of parents as service users, and how they can work together with agencies, in true co-production. Chaired by Kristina Jackson, CEO of Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS).

Increasing parental control: Thinking creatively about prevention in Early Years
Find out how developments in Social Care Personal Budgets can be applied to the design and co-production of prevention and early intervention services across the system – with parents having more control of what and how public funds are spent on them. Led by Kathryn Chard, Department of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex.

The data tells the story: How to use data to shape future work priorities
Learn about moving from the use of data as a tool for measuring what we have done in the past, to a tool for identifying where we should be working in the future. Led by Richard Warren, Senior Data Analyst at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council.

Responding to change by changing: How to enhance your Early Years’ service through reviewing evidence of what works
Explore new ways to co-produce and make improvements in Early Years to shape and innovate services. Led by Tim Hobbs, Director at Dartington Service Design Lab.


Most importantly, the day promises to be a conference with a real difference, and not one to be missed. A complimentary lunch will be provided, and delegates are very welcome to bring partners and children.

There will be a range of family-friendly activities too, including (but not only): a healthy eating workshop/recipe board, Wild Story Theatre performances and puppet interaction, Pepper the Robot, a robotics workshop and a sensory space. All this running parallel to the main conference to keep you and your family entertained throughout. You will also get a chance to meet and help name A Better Start Southend’s new mascot!

When:  9:30am–4pm, Thursday 11th April 2019. Registration begins at 8.45am.

Where: South Essex College, Luker Rd, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1ND

Click to book your FREE ticket!

If you have any questions about the day, please contact or on 01702 356050.

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