By Alex Spragg, Programme Director, Better Start Bradford
Happy New Year!
The circumstances in which I write this are not what any of us were hoping for, the increasing prevalence of Covid has led to a return to home working for the majority of our team and the cancellation of some of our end of year celebrations. However, it remains important to reflect on how much we’ve managed to achieve over the last year despite the challenges and adversity that living through a global pandemic have brought.
Our digital presence and connections have never felt more relevant and we started the year with the news that our Communications and Marketing Team had won the Nursery World Online and Social Media award. The judges described our website and social media output as, “immersive, supportive and very parent focused”, and were impressed with how the online platforms were used to raise awareness, educate, promote projects and activities and interact with key partners.
Never a team to rest on their laurels, marketing campaigns and tools have continued to be developed throughout the year. Better Start Bradford now has its own APP, providing access to events, news and information about the programme and work is underway to refresh and relaunch our website. The Moments that Matter campaign was developed in partnership with Little Minds Matter, our Infant Mental Health project, and features local families who have videoed their interactions with their babies and toddlers as examples of how they are key to babies brain development.
The Better Place capital works are nearing conclusion – there have been some amazing additions to outdoor spaces across the Better Start Bradford area designed with local families to encourage and support young children’s experience of the outdoors. This has included the installation of a wide variety of equipment, artwork and planting to make spaces in our communities accessible, inviting and exciting to young children whilst encouraging us all to value the natural world, harness opportunities to engage with it and deepen our understanding of how all lives can be enhanced both mentally and physically by nature and outdoor play.
We have received incredible feedback from families, professionals, community members and politicians about the difference the schemes have made to both the physical environment and the way in which the community embrace the opportunities.
The Family and Community Engagement team have certainly made good use of the outdoors, and along with the Neighbourhood Project workers, projects and partners ensured Better Start Bradford were represented at over 30 summer events across the area. They also coordinated the distribution of 300 summer fun activity kits to families and worked with Bradford Council to promote early education places in the area.
The Better Start Bradford Community Engagement Network has also been launched bringing together organisations working across the Better Start Bradford area and finding opportunities to learn from each other and collaborate wherever possible.
Learning from across the Better Start Bradford programme is starting to be applied in many areas of work across the District and as we enter our eighth year, we are excited to be involved in a number of District-wide initiatives and conversations about ways of future working.
The launch of the Bradford District Adverse Childhood Experiences, Trauma and Resilience Strategy in March was built on the strong collaboration between Better Start Bradford and Public Health. A jointly funded Coordinator provides oversight of embedding the aims and ambition of the strategy in work across the District and beyond.
Finally, the fourth Baby Week Bradford took place in November providing a programme with a wide range of events which took place both in person and online. These provided opportunities to explore themes relating to birth and early influences on babies, whilst also promoting activities to parents to explore with their children. The theme was ‘Bradford Babies are Everyone’s Business’ and participants were invited to contribute why, below are a few of the contributions that remind us why our focus on the youngest members of our community remains crucial:
“They are the most important people in the world – a beacon of opportunity”
“None of us can flourish unless our babies flourish”
“Their environment is like a big jigsaw puzzle and we are all part of it”
“They are the most important investment we could make for the future of our district, our country and ultimately the world”