Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fulfilling Lives - A Better Start

I am delighted that our application on behalf of Newcastle City Council and partners to the Big Lottery 'Fulfilling Lives - A Better Start' programme is through to the next stage. Newcastle is one of just 15 places selected from 40 applications submitted at the beginning of June this year.

Big Lottery have commissioned Dartington Social Research Unit to work intensively with each of the 15 sites between now and 3rd January to create a partnership and develop a business plan that will give parents and babies living in challenging circumstances the best start in life. Children North East has also been awarded a development grant to help the process along. Business plans must be submitted to the Big Lottery by 3rd January who will then select 5 places which will each receive up to £5m a year for 10 years, a huge investment in pregnancy, parenting and babies.

Children North East will be leading a partnership of organisations working in the wards of Walker, Byker, Elswick, Benwell and Scotswood. In these wards 25% of pregnant women are obese; figures for low birth weight are worse than the England average; in one ward only 18% of women are still breastfeeding when their babies are 8 weeks old; Newcastle has the highest child obesity figures in the country in reception year (age 6); and the highest proportion of incidents of domestic violence in the city occur in families where a child is under one year old.

The partnership will recruit more midwives to advise obese women and those experiencing domestic violence. It will set up an online resource to prepare fathers for parenthood and train nursery nurses to support parents with new babies. Programmes will also address nutrition, smoking and alcohol consumption and advice on healthy living during pregnancy, achieving higher breastfeeding rates and improving parents skills in budgeting and preparing healthy food.

As new parents become proficient they will be invited to train as volunteer ‘doulas’ to advise and support new parents. An accredited training programme will be developed and as the number of doulas grows, an offer of doula support will be made to all new parents thus spreading the learning and impact to other parts of the city.

The next four months are going to be very exciting as we create the partnership and develop the plan, it is a fantastic opportunity for health, council and voluntary organisations in Newcastle to dramatically improve services and support for expectant Mams and Dads and their babies.

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