Whitecraig Support from the Start and play

Dear All

As you are aware Whitecraig is one of the communities that is part of the Support from the Start process in East Lothian, which aims to improve health outcomes by focusing on intervention in the early years and support for parents.


As part of this process we have begun a ‘civic conversation’ on health and well being in Whitecraig with an event that looked at the health needs of early years families from a parents perspective (see enclosed report). The output of this event was the identification of two themes by the parents that were present – play, and access to services.


I would like to invite you to attend a short meeting to discuss how we can take the ‘civic conversation’  to the next level in Whitecraig  by focusing on the play issue in particular. This meeting would be to look at how parents in Whitecraig can be engaged in play as a health issue.


If you are happy to participate in this I would be grateful if you could indicate which of the following dates you could make.


Friday 12th June am

Monday 22nd June pm

Tuesday July 7th


Many thanks

Lena Hutton




Acceptance Feedback

Acceptance – written and performed by Lisa Nichol is a play about the pressures on young women that can lead to alcohol misuse and the issues that this can raise for young women..

 “This is a play that touches upon many of the issues that affect women like Scarlet today and conveys in a genuine and meaningful way the emotional and social dilemmas and the pressure people in today’s society face to fit in.” David Shaw – Glasgow Council on Alcohol

Support from the Start worked with Queen Margaret Univeristy to bring this performance to East Lothian as part of a ‘civic conversation’ on health and tackling health inequality. The performnces helped to raise awareness of alcohol as a health and well being issue, and each one was followed by discussion the ouput from which is given below.

The play is not a health education message against alcohol abuse, rather an honest portrayl of the issues alcohol can create in a young womans life. From the comment below I think it touched a cord for many people presnt. The Tranent performance was attend between 50 and 60 people – all women bar myself. The Musselburgh performance had a much smaller audience of 15, but was followed by a lively discussion and some good contacts were made.

Here is the feedback provided after the performances of the Acceptance play in Tranent Town Hall on Thursday 14th May and in the Brunton Hall, Musselburgh on Wednesday 20th May


For more information on Lisa Nichol folow this link


acceptance poster

Action Learning Sets

The role of action learning

 We have developed action learning as part of the support for service champions, and as a means for developing leadership for service change and development on health inequality. The learning process is facilitated by Ann Campell and Moira McKinnon of Garth Associates.

In addtion to this the members of East Lothian’s Joint Health Improvment Planning Board have planned a series of reflective sessions during which they will be joined by Dr Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer, and Karen Grieve national programme manager for Equally Well

 Action learning sets provide the following:

  • support for individual champions developing their own learning / perspective on this issue
  • support for individual champions developing their own leadership skills in relation to this issue
  • challenge the champions to think about their role and the role of the service they represent on this issue
  • challenge the champions to think beyond their own service area on this issue
  • support the champions to maintain a focus on the rationale of Support from the Start

More information on how action learning work is available at this link how-does-action-learning-operate-in-practice 

With the agreement of the sevice champions the output from the learning sets will be posted on this blog.

Here is the output from the first Action Learning meetings held on 7th May 2009

Outputs  Set 1, Set 2, Set 4

Set 3 will be meeting on 3rd June and output will be posted after that date.

Service champions



Here goes…….

I am now a blogger….yah.  Hopefully this will work. 

I thought I would try and add something to the blog.  I attended the Acceptance play last week in Tranent, Lisa did a fantastic job in her one woman play to put over a very powerful message that I am sure  everyone in the audience could relate to.  It would be good to get her down to Prestonpans.

I am really keen to start a Civic Conversation in Prestonpans so I will be emailing around to see if some professionals would get on board.  If your interested then email me.  I am on the council system.

Cheers for now


Creativity on a friday night !

I was recently sent the enclosed link by Karin Chipulina a forest school leader, artist and gardener. I have known Karin and her parents for some time. Her mother is an artist  whose work I love, and her father gave me the most excellent recipe for cooking pheasant and is one of those persons in whose company you can safely collect mushrooms. All in all a family rich in culture, creativity and learning, but not so serious they don’t know how to laugh and have a good time.

I can guarantee that if you follow the link you will find better entertainment than you will get on the tele on a friday night – and it says something that I for one wholeheartedly agree with. ( Bye the way – Anbody who is going to a conference on the early years framework on the 2oth May – please don’t let on that I have used some of the material.)




If that doesnt do anything for you could always try Don Ledinghams version of Tam O’Shanter at https://www.edubuzz.org/donsblog/page/2/

Breast Feeding Awareness Week Coffee Morning

A Coffee morning has been arranged by the Tranent and Ormiston HV’s to be held at the Early Years Centre, Sandersons Wynd, Tranent. On Wednesday 13th May from 11am – 12 noon. We are advertising it on the radio, in the local press and on posters so hopefully there will be a good response. There will be no charge for the refreshments provided.

Civic Conversation

 In partnership with Queen Margaret University we have taken the opportunity to host a one woman play about alcohol and the role it play in the lives of many young women.

The play called Acceptance is written and performed by Liz Nicoll and a short extract can be viewed at



This is a play that touches upon many of the issues that affect women like Scarlet today and conveys in a genuine and meaningful way the emotional and social dilemmas and the pressure people in today’s society face to fit in.” David Shaw – Glasgow Council on Alcohol

“….. a clever piece of writing and a heart-tugging story consummately performed; it’s everything one-woman theatre can, and should be.”    Three Weeks Publication Edinburgh Festival 2008.

 Venue:         Tranent Town Hall, May 14th  2009, 1.30pm – 3pm

Venue:            Brunton Hall, May 20th 1.30pm – 3pm

 Refreshments and an opportunity for discussion will follow the performance.

Crèche available but must be booked in advance

This performance is free of charge

To book a place tel. 01620 827509 email healthyliving@eastlothian.gov.uk

For a flyer click here Acceptance

 The civic conversation is the community engagement strategy fro Support from the Start – see previous posts for more discussion

Conference feedback

Almost 180 people attended a one day conference which launched East Lothian’s Equally Well test site – Support from the Start.

The day was started off with Dr Sue Ross Executive Director of Community Services for East Lothian Council welcoming participants and setting the scene for the day with a description what the test site hopes to achieve. 

The keynote speaker for the morning was Dr Harry Burns – Chief Medical Officer for Scotland – who spoke about the ‘Need for action’ to tackle inequality in health. He explained the latest research on the causes of health inequality and emphasised the importance of intervention in the early years of life if Scotland is to redress inequality in health outcomes. Dr Burns presentation made it very clear that the environment that children are brought up in has a clear and direct influence on physical and mental development in a way that can continue to influence responses to social and environmental stimuli in later life. His central thesis, from a variety of research sources, was that environmental, social and psychological influences that produce an inconsistent parenting environment creates a physically evident stress response in children. In turn this stress response prompts maladaptive responses in the way that children respond to the physical, social and psychological environment they inhabit and this produces health and social problems both in childhood and later life. 

Participants in the conference were invited to discuss what they had heard from Dr Ross & Dr Burns in the light of their own concerns for health and well being in their service areas. Having identified their concerns for trends in health they looked at the consequences of these concerns / trends if nothing was done to address them. Finally they were asked to think what could be done to address the consequences they had identified and in particular to complete the statement  – We will tackle inequality in health by……  A summary of the output from the discussion can be found here. These statements will contribute towards an action plan for Support from the Start

The morning session was closed by Don Ledingham Acting Executive Director for Education and Children’s Services for East Lothian Council with a presentation on the theme of – ‘A call to Action’. Don Ledingham’s presentation focused on the need for a sense of ‘belonging’ in children and communities as an essential part of what is required to create the circumstances for god health. He emphasised that services had a responsibility to generate that sense of belonging in all children, and that unconditional positive regard (or in old money – love)  was essential to achieve this. He also pointed to free school entitlement as a marker for many of poor social, educational and health outcomes that Support from the Start seeks to address and suggested that this would be one way of making sure that the right suppport is reaching the right people.

The them of the afternoon session was creating a ‘conversation’ about health and inequality that actively engages communities and families. The session was opended by East Lothian’s Depute Provost, Councillor Roger Knox who spoke about the importance of making connections, and reaching different parts of the community with support and information.

The keynote speaker for the afternoon session was Andrew Lyon of the Intrnational Futures Forum. Andrew’s presentation focused on how we think about the future, and critically that our individual and collective futures are created by what we do in the present. He talked about the role a ‘civic conversation’ can have in shaping our understanding of the present and future, by bringing together the many different perspectives that exist about the same issues to create a shared understanding of what is needed and what is possible.

Th table discsussions in the aftenoon focused on what communities could do to create a conversation about health and inequality. Folowing the same process as the morning the participants genrated – We will ….. ‘ statements and these will aslo be usedto form the action plan for Support from the Start.

The conference was closed by Alan Blackie, Chief Executive of East Lothian Council. His presentation was on the theme of ‘Keeping the conversaton going’. he emphasised that Support from the Start was not a short life project but a focus within mainstream services on tackling the kind of inequality in health that can be passed from generaton to generation if action wasnt taken to break the cycle. He made it clear that this could not be achieved without the active engageent of families and communites and that a consistent and creative dialogue had to be  developed with communities on this issue. This dialogue or conversation was not the purpose but a means to ensuring that services were doing all that could be done to redress inequality in health and improve life chances for children in East Lothian.

Copies of the presentation and a summary of the ‘We will statement will be posted here shortly.

Dr Harry Burns presentation slides dr-harry-burns-part-1 dr-harry-burns-part-2 

 Andrew Lyons International futures forum Andrew Lyons presntation equally-well-east-lothian-march-09


Steven Wray

Bump to bairn

The Tranent health and Well Being Group worked with the East Lothian Young people and Food Group to run an event for local parents at the Loch Centre in Tranent. Parents could find out about health topics such as weaning and oral health or other aspects of life such as financial issues or childcare from a range of local and East Lothian services.  We estimate that at least 30 parents came along and the event had a positive and lively atmosphere.  We will be asking stall holders for their views so we can judge if this is something we should do again.

Parents were asked to give us their views on how it feels being a parent or carer in Tranent.  I thought others might be interested to see what they said – see below:

What’s not so good about being a parent or carer in Tranent? 


  • Stigma if a young parent.
  • Early Daze- 2nd baby mums not always able to attend
  • You can’t get buggies on most of the buses.
  • ‘Policeman’s Close’ – need to go on the road with buggies.
  • Lack of support from Council-funding not being allocated to our worker to keep our young parents group going.
  • Some shops not accessible to parents with buggies.
  • Lack of funding for groups



What’s good about being a parent or carer in Tranent?


  • Able to go to local parent and toddler groups
  • Early Daze 0-6months group with Health Visitors- really good for mums mixing and to access advice.
  • Local support groups.
  • Good health visitors
  • Good mums
  • Good midwives.
  • Social life with other mums.
  • Information given from midwives and health visitors.
  • Everything on the ‘door- step’ for a parent i.e. shops, banks etc.
  • Early Daze – provides advice, and a social aspect allowing friendships to be forged.
  • Good groups and support networks.
  • Having the support of local workers


How easy is it to be a parent or carer in Tranent?

(Individuals were asked to indicate on a scale between 1 and 10)


  • 2 parents indicated 5
  • 1 parent indicated 7


What needs to change?


  • More childcare.
  • More jobs for mums
  • Better parks and cafes.
  • Less stigma
  • Fill the gap with a local playgroup.
  • More private nurseries.
  • Better parks
  • More jobs for mums.
  • Better facilities for all ages 0-15yrs
  • More jobs aimed at single parents
  • Funding continuum for groups.



What’s not so good about Tranent?


  • The high street pavements aren’t buggy friendly.
  • Dated facilitied
  • Doctors’ surgery too small for size of population in Tranent.
  • Lack of cafes and meeting places.
  • No cafes or restaurants for families.



What’s good about Tranent?


Friendly mums.

Good choice of school for the size of Tranent.

Anti-natal classes and follow-up visits.

Plenty of groups for parents and children to meet.

Good support for breast feeding.

Quite child friendly.

Can access most shops with pram.

If improvements to Polson Park go ahead will make a big difference.

Helpful information from


How child friendly is Tranent?

(Individuals were asked to indicate on a scale between 1 and 10)


  • 1 parent  indicated 6




What needs to change?


  • More child friendly shops.
  • Better transport from surrounding villages.
  • Too many ‘bookies’ and off licences.



Bugs, Boats and Obesity

Busy BugsThe East Lothian Physical Activity & Health Partnership hosted a meeting on promoting physical activity in the early years on 2nd March. The positive effects of moderate physical activity on all aspects of health and well being in all age groups are clear from research.

The meeting was led off with an informal presentation by Caroline from the Active School team who spoke about her work rolling out the Busy Bugs programme in East Lothian, as well as other programmes such as Basic Moves and Kickstart.

“Busy Bugs/Top Tots helps to introduce and sustain play and physical activity as part of a daily routine for children aged two to three-and-a-half years. The programme provides new ways to keep children active at nursery and at home, through play, movement to music, basic moves and games, with a focus on enjoyment and fun! The course covers programme planning, content and management, lesson plans, resources and the evaluation and review process. It is ideal for parents, nursery, playgroup workers and anyone else working with this pre-five age group.”

The Active School Teams approach is to train people – staff and community members – to deliver these programmes, and then to provide backup and support for these staff. They have found that support is needed especially until the trainees get some experience of delivering the programmes for children under their belts. Busy Bugs has been particularly popular with nursery staff, both local authority and private sector. A gap, discussed at the meeting, has been links to communities. A positive outcome from the meeting was a connection being made with the community development service that may help with this. There is also a need to develop a train the trainers package to help disseminate Busy Bugs and other programmes further than is possible within the resources of the Active Schools team. The teams vision is that this programme becomes a part of mainstream early years provision with back up and quality assurance provided by themselves. Hence, the Active schools team would train the trainers for school, nurseries and community settings who would then train staff to deliver the programmes in the different settings.

The meeting also heard about dance initiatives for this age group, and the provision of outdoor play in the form of play parks and outdoor areas of nurseries and infant schools.  It was clear that a lot of high quality work is going on in East Lothian to promote physical activity for this age group.

The issue of obesogenic environments was also touched upon as an explanation of why children (and adults) seem to be becoming more overweight despite such excellent work taking place in schools and nurseries. Basically an obesogenic environment is one in which it is easy to access lots of calorie dense food, and difficult to burn off those calories in physical activity. Such an environment makes it very easy to  gain weight particularly if you are genetically disposed.  In terms of weight gain it can be said that ‘Genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger’.

Are East Lothian communities obesogenic – and if so are we asking all the dedicated staff who provide programmes like Busy Bugs to bail out a leaky boat?