Delivering on Early Years

A conference at the National Museum of Scotland on the 7th March organised by Holyrood saw a range of speakers from across theUK and panel discussions on a wide range of topics of interest to professionals with an interest on improving and promoting early years care.

Human Connections

The day was ably chaired by Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People and was started off with a look at human interconnections and the connected baby with a moving and heartfelt presentation by Dr. Suzanne Zeedyck who used and promoted her new video “The Connected Baby” (

This was followed by illustrative case studies on the importance of attachment from Paul Gilroy of Crossreach (Paul Gilroy Crossreach) and on working with communities by Mary Glasgow of Barnardos Scotland (Mary Glasgow Barnardos)

The Policy Context

The second part of the morning focused on the wider policy context and was kicked off by Councillor Isabel Hutton, COSLA Spokesperson for Education, Children and Young People.  Cllr Hutton emphasised the importance and centrality of the early years acrossScotlandin order to make a long term positive difference toScotland’s future.  This was followed by an interesting panel discussion and Q&A session with a range of participants form Health, Education, Local Government and the Third Sector.

Funding Opportunities and Challenges

The afternoon began with a session focused on funding with input form and a panel discussion with representatives from the Scottish Community Foundation, Inspiring Scotland and the Big Lottery Fund.  Much useful information was shared on the mechanisms, procedures, priorities and thinking behind some of the more substantial grant funders inScotland.

Making it Happen in Nottingham

Katy Ball Nottingham

The final session of the day looked at howNottinghamhas succeeded in rebranding itself as an earlyInterventionCitywith a full and interesting presentation from Katy Ball the Head of Early Intervention and Market Development with Nottingham City Council.  She illustrated how Nottingham had turned around a series of negative aspects of a city with high levels of deprivation and associated problems to one where an Ofsted Inspection recently said that Nottingham has…”an extensive and outstanding range of early intervention services, making a marked shift with vulnerable children and families”.  This was achieved with an extensive basket of early intervention programmes starting from:

  • universal services offered to all (Healthy Child Programme);
  • moving on up to proportionate universal services offered widely but pushed towards certain groups (Baby Massage);
  • then on to targeted work with specific groups (Family Nurse Partnership);
  • and on finally up to highly specialised programmes working with high end/high cost groups to reduce costs and intergenerational impact (Family Intervention Project)

Making it Happen in Nottingham in Northumberland

Jane Casson Northumberland

Katy was followed by a very inspirational speaker, Jane Casson MBE, a Locality manger for Sure Start Northumberland.  She detailed how a range of rather unexpected partnerships developed across her patch with shared services and often co-location of services such as:

  • Sure Start family centres
  • Ambulance Service
  • Community Transport
  • Environment Agency
  • GP Support Services
  • Midwifery Services
  • Probation Services
  • Local Community Charities

This wide range of close partnership working and facilities sharing has led to very significant cost savings as well as a range of concert positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities including:

  • Reduction in smoking.
  • Reduction in 0-3 admitted to A&E.
  • Safety information available for all families.
  • Training in health and safety and basic first aid available to all families.
  • Reduction in house fires.
  • Reduction in casualty / fatality figures.
  • Home Fire Safety message to hard to reach groups.
  • Address the community safety agenda.

John Boyce / Ann Hume

Public Health Practitioner / Manager

East Lothian Community Health Partnership / Olivebank Children & Families Centre, Musselburgh