Stockport Council co-launches pioneering £1.5m programme to tackle childhood inequalities

Stockport Council is partnering with the charity Nesta to develop and deliver innovative services that will help give all children a fairer start in life.

The new collaboration, Fairer Start Local, will bring together specialist teams from Nesta and the local authorities of Leeds, Stockport and York. We will work together to use evidence-based design, data science and behavioural insights to develop new ways of ensuring that all children aged 0-5 have a fair start in life.

Fairer Start Local will focus on developing innovative ways of supporting stable and secure family relationships, boosting the mental and physical health of families, increasing access to high quality childcare and improving home learning environments.

In Stockport, the focus will initially be on using innovative approaches to review the assessments, support and advice provided to families and young children from pregnancy to age 5. The project aims to investigate which approaches work best in engaging with families and communities in particular contexts and how services could be adapted to better meet a family’s need. The project will seek to amplify child and family voices and will also explore the role of community assets and peer support in supporting optimal child development. Learning will be shared across Greater Manchester to support Greater Manchester’s shared ambition to improve school readiness.

Nesta is a national charity working to ensure that all children are equally ready to start school after their fourth birthday, regardless of their background. It is investing £1.5m in Fairer Start Local over three years, working in equal partnership with Leeds City Council, Stockport Council (part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) and City of York Council.

The ambition is to develop pioneering methods to support parents and children across the three local authorities, which each serve distinct and diverse populations. Some interventions will be highly area-specific, embedded in local social and cultural contexts, while others may be applicable across the partnership and in other cities and towns.

Tom Symons, Deputy Director of Nesta’s Fairer Start mission, said:

“We want every child to have the same opportunities to thrive, but sadly that’s not the reality for too many children today. Through Fairer Start Local, we want to make sure that every parent and child has access to the support that they need to get on in life. We’ll be working with council experts who bring a wealth of knowledge, understanding and ideas about how to best support local families. Their strong connections with diverse local communities will help us to develop new approaches that really work for people, providing the right support at the right time and place.”

Councillor Colin Foster, Cabinet Member for Children, Family Services and Education, said:

“In Stockport we want every child to have the best start in life, that is why we are delighted to be a part of Fairer Start Local. By being a part of this programme it will allow us to reconsider how families are supported in the early years whilst building on local innovation, such as integration of speech therapists in Start Well teams to further develop and adapt our services to ensure all children in their earliest years of life reach their full potential.
“We look forward to furthering our use of innovation expertise as part of Fairer Start Local to learn from families about their needs. This will help us to develop a flexible range of services for families when they require additional help and support.”

Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Greater Manchester Combined Authority lead for Young People, said:

“It is part of our ambition to make sure that every child in Greater Manchester gets the best start in life. We are working on a number of different initiatives to close the school readiness gap and I am really pleased to be working with Nesta to develop innovative ways to support families and ensure that our children can thrive.”