Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade!
Since joining Better Start Bradford in April 2019 I have been getting to know the team, our projects, partners and families, and learning about the incredible work that is underway. I’ve also been getting to know Bradford better. I have recently bought a house and joined a local running club so am getting more opportunities to learn about Bradford geography (particularly the hills!) and people.
The past year has been incredibly busy for the programme, seeing over 20 different projects being delivered to children and families, as well as 26 new local family groups being awarded over £37,000 through our Parents in the Lead activities fund. We’ve provided and supported a wide range of community engagement events, recruited a large number of volunteers across a range of roles and we’ve established our Neighbourhood Project working with local voluntary groups to employ a network of engagement workers ensuring the work and key messages of Better Start Bradford are shared throughout the community.
I’ve been inspired by so much of the work that is going on and people that I’ve met. Particular highlights have included attending the Community Stars Awards with the three finalists in the Better Start Bradford Early Years category, Aqsa, Ali and Jo, who were all so good at sharing how they have personally benefitted from their volunteer roles as well as being an amazing resource for our projects and families. The Shared Learning events we organise have allowed me to meet a wide range of Bradford practitioners who are keen to learn through the work we are doing and hear from outstanding speakers such as Dr Andy Cope on positive psychology, George Hosking OBE on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and Professor Lynne Kemp on the success of the Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-Visiting programme (MESCH) in Australia.
The second Baby Week Bradford was an amazing event to be part of, celebrating babies across the district and seeing over 1,250 babies and families take part. The Big Little Moments campaign has also loomed large (sometimes literally!) throughout the year, using a series of images, animations and resources to spread messages about how the little things we do with very young children develop their brains helping to give them the best start. It’s been great to see these images all over the Better Start Bradford area and being used by projects, staff and volunteers to develop further the messages that investing time and attention on the youngest in our community has a huge impact both on the individual child but also for the wider community and services supporting us.
2020 is set to be an exciting year for many reasons. We will be reaching the halfway point of our 10-year programme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. We will be marking this landmark in a range of ways to tell our “Story so Far”. We’ve many exciting and inspirational stories to tell about the difference the programme has already made to children and their families who have participated in our projects, professionals we have worked with and the way services are provided within our community and beyond. We are looking forward to sharing these stories and the data and research behind them.
We will also see a number of Better Place capital projects completed in 2020 including a pocket park at the Mayfield Centre, a range of play opportunities at Kettlewell Snicket and Bowling Park, and street planters for families to help improve their local environment.
Better Start Bradford will have a significant role in the early years strand of the Bradford Literature Festival 26 June-5 July 2020 and we’ll be organising the third Baby Week Bradford which will take place between 8-14 November 2020.
There’s so much for us and our community to look forward to in the coming year and we are all extremely thankful for everyone’s continued support and commitment to ensure that our children get the best start in life.
Alex Spragg, Programme Director, Better Start Bradford