‘Healthy Happy Bairns’

The output from a year long evaluation study led by the Queen Margaret Univerity ChangexChange team is linked below.


 The evaluation found that Support from the Start has created significant outcomes for children and their families. Children had new-found confidence, improved social relationships, were better equipped to cope with change, were more ready for school, and benefited from a more structured and more settled day and family life.  Parents involved improved their relationships with their children, were more able to avoid significant mental health issues, were less stressed and more able to cope with life events, had increased personal confidence, and were able to find support from extended social networks.

 We are confident that ‘Healthy Happy Bairns’ will be a source of ideas and inspiration for a range of professionals and organisations seeking to make a difference to health inequalities in the early years.  We would recommend that practitioners, managers and leaders take the learning and use it to make the changes required to create a positive impact in the early years experience of all children, so that they can secure a stable, healthy and happy future.


What have we been doing & where have we been?

The link below will take you to a document that attempts to describe what has been happening as a result of the Equally Well test site in East Lothian and the rationale behind that activity. It is a report to the National Programme for Equally Well on the two years in which the test site has been in operation.

The report is not an evaluation of Support from the Start,  it simply seeks to tell the story of what we have been doing and why.

I will, however,  shortly be able to post the outcome of an evaluation of Support from the Start in East Lothian, which was taken forward by a Queen Margaret University. The evaluation was delivered using an innovative approach that develops a local partnership linked to academic support to make sure that evaluation is both relevant and rigorous. Two East Lothian practitioners – John Boyce and Ann Hume – were seconded part time to the university to work with a ‘firefly’ team led by Professor Kirsty Forsyth. They carried out a number of focus groups with parents that had been involved in  champion led developments and initiatives, as well as completing a survey of champions. The output from the evaluation includes a resource for practitioners and planners who might want to use some of the approach and ideas that have been used in the test site. The resource is called healthy, Happy Bairns from a comment made by one  of the parents involved in the focus groups. Watch this space

Test site report to Scottish government National Programme for Equally Well

Feast – with QMU

FEAST 2011 set to be the date in Scotland’s culinary diary

A unique student led food festival which is supported by a string of award winning chefs is set to be the date in Scotland’s culinary diary.

A collaboration between Queen Margaret University and Jewel & Esk College, FEAST 2011 is supported by an impressive line up of culinary experts including Tom Kitchin (The Kitchin in Leith) and Derek Johnston (Masterchef 2008 and chef at Greywalls, East Lothian).

Part-funded by EventScotland through their Food and Drink funding programme, FEAST 2011 begins with a unique dinner on the evening of Friday 1st April, at Queen Margaret University with the legendary Albert Roux OBE as guest of honour.  Serious foodies are in for a real treat; Trevor Laffin, lecturer in hospitality at Queen Margaret University, has pulled together an impressive line up of developing talent from some of Scotland’s top kitchens. Young chefs who work alongside Martin Wishart, Tom Kitchin, Dominic Jack and Malcolm Webster will each prepare canapés, a starter, fish dish, main meal or dessert.

Trevor Laffin explained: “Guests will have the rare opportunity of having each dish from their meal prepared by a different young chef from these top restaurants. We are also delighted that Albert Roux has agreed to be our guest of honour. Many of the world’s top chefs have trained with Albert Roux. It will be a privilege to hear him talk and for the young chefs to prepare their own dishes for him. This is a one-off event that people who are enthusiastic about food will not want to miss.” 

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland, explained, ” We are delighted to be supporting FEAST 2011. The Year of Food and Drink is the first step on the road to Homecoming 2014 and a legacy of the 2009 Homecoming celebrations. Scotland is a land of food & drink and this campaign gives people the opportunity to experience the great produce on their doorstep.”

Following this the Jewel & Esk College campus will be the venue for the food festival on Saturday April 2nd.  The partnership hosted their first food festival last year and it was hugely successful.  A celebration of regional Scottish food, FEAST explores the quality and diversity of Scottish produce. With top chefs such as Tom Kitchin, Derek Johnston, Fiona Burrell (New Town Cook School) and Yogesh Utekar (Indian Master Chef from Mumbai) demonstrating signature dishes, FEAST is sure to appeal to food buffs. A big hit with visitors last year were the taster dishes prepared and served by students.  Once again, students from  both centres will be showcasing taster dishes from eight specially selected Scottish regions.  People will have the opportunity to taste top quality produce and learn more about Scottish food and drink whilst the hospitality, tourism and event management students will be participating in an outstanding and unique learning opportunity. A producers’ market will be a key feature of this year’s FEAST ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to sample and purchase.

“FEAST is a celebration of regional Scottish food. We want visitors to be able to sample lots of dishes and to experience the wealth of culinary talent which we are so lucky to have in Scotland.  We won’t be scrimping on tastings!” said Gordon Hodgson, Head of the Faculty of Service Industries from Jewel & Esk College. “FEAST is a truly unique event and gives folks a great opportunity to see the Scottish culinary elite at work and to experience a range of excellent Scottish produce. People will also have an insight into the learning experience of future talent and to support our young students in that.”

The FEAST 2011 dinner will take place on Friday 1 April at Queen Margaret University (tickets priced £95 each). FEAST 2011 food festival will take place at Jewel & Esk College on Saturday 2 April from 10am – 4pm. The latter will also include a Producers’ Market.

Tickets for the Saturday food festival can be bought online at www.qmu.ac.uk/feast  via Paypal or from Jewel & Esk College or Queen Margaret University. Tickets for the Friday dinner should be ordered from Sarah Whigham, Events Manager at QMU on events@qmu.ac.uk

Tickets prices for FEAST 2011 (Saturday food festival):

·       £12 for adults

·       £5 (Concession available for students and children under 16 years of age); 

·       Children under 5 years go free

FEAST 2011 will also include a Producers Market providing visitors with the opportunity to buy regional produce to take home. If producers of Scottish food or drink products are interested in hiring a stall at FEAST 2011, they should contact Mags Fenner on email: MFenner@jec.ac.uk on tel: 0131 474 0000. A £25 charge will be made for each stall space/pitch.

‘Are We Securely Attached’

Early Years Conference ‘Are We Securely Attached’

March 17th  2011 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

 The Early Years and Childcare Team are once again organising an Early Years Conference which aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of Early Years development in improving children’s life chances

 Speakers at the conference are:

Robin Balbernie is currently Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist in Gloucestershire CAMHS. He works with the Children’s Centres in Cheltenham, Gloucester and the Forest of Dean as lead of the Secure Start team, providing an infant mental health service. He has a special interest in early interventions, originally arising from his work with adopted children, and is on the Committee of the Association of Infant Mental Health (UK) and is also a member of the Young Minds’ Policy and Strategy Advisory Group.”

 Suzanne Zeedyk is currently Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at Dundee University. Suzanne’s work focuses on parent-infant relationships. She works closely with organisations such as the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, HomeStart, Kids Taskforce and a number of city councils. Her key aim is to increase awareness of the extent to which, when making decisions about the care we give to children. We are also making decisions about the kind of society we wish to build.

 The day will be facilitated by Susan Deacon who was MSP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh from 1999 to 2007 and Scotland’s first cabinet minister for Health and Community Care.  She holds a range of advisor and non executive roles with organisations in the private, public and third sectors.  She has been a consistent advocate for the importance of children’s early years.

 Who should attend?  Anyone working with young children and their families, or who has responsibility for strategic planning for Early Years services

 The Programme and Booking Form are available from Pauline Evans 01620 827141

pevans@eastlothian.gov.uk or  from this link below –


Olivebank & Omega3

Evaluation of an initiative to provide omega-3 rich snacks to preschool children at Olivebank Nursery in Musselburgh

(Article provided by Dr Jane Mackenzie from QMU)

 Senior researchers at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh have recently worked with nursery children in East Lothian to improve their diets.

The University’s experts in nutrition collaborated with Olivebank Nursery in Musselburgh to encourage children to eat more oily fish as part of a balanced diet.  This follows directly on from some preliminary work carried out by the staff at Greengables Nursery in Craigmillar, Edinburgh.

The work was carried out by Nutrition Graduate, Elina Scheers Andersson, and was supported by a grant from the Organix Foundation, a charity which funds research projects that help develop understanding of the links between food quality and children’s health.

Dr Sandra Drummond, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dr Jane McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Metabolism are aware that nursery aged children in Scotland have very low intakes of oily fish – the key dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for normal child development during this critical age.

Dr Drummond explained: “As a nation, the Scots are not consuming the recommended intake of oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna, and young children’s intakes are particularly low. Optimising intake of Omega 3 fats will help children to reach their full potential and improve their long term health.”

As it is understood that very few children are familiar with oily fish, the research team aimed to encourage children to become more aware of fish – where it comes from, what it tastes like, and how they can incorporate fishy snacks into their every day diet.

Nursery staff worked closely with the research team to promote a range of fun and interesting activities. A visit to the local fishmonger introduced children to different types of fish. There were also opportunities for hands on food preparation sessions such as making tasty snacks from fish they’d bought from the shop.  The snacks, including smoked mackerel pâté, salmon fish fingers, tuna meatballs and smoked salmon and spinach tartlets, were then offered to the children at the nursery in place of the regular snacks.

The majority of children found the range of omega-3 rich snacks as enjoyable and acceptable as the regular snacks. Substituting some of the regular snacks with those made with oily fish increased the intake of valuable omega-3 fatty acids significantly. The impact of this initiative on the children’s overall dietary intake requires further evaluation, however the results from this study indicate that such an initiative can be successful within a similar vulnerable population.

Dr Drummond concluded:” This research can impact positively in many ways.  Taste preferences are learned at an early age. If children are given the opportunity to develop a liking for oily fish at a young age, this preference can persist throughout their life. By developing an awareness and liking for oily fish, young children may be able to influence the food choice of the whole family.”

Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: ”This project is an excellent example of the relevance of Queen Margaret University research work and ensures that academic knowledge is being applied to a real life community setting. The work fits well with Queen Margaret’s philosophy of improving quality of life and allows us to have a positive impact on the health of our younger members of society.”

Changexchange – Evaluating the Impact of Support from the Start

Changexchange is a collaborative research project consisting of practitioners from NHS Lothian and East Lothian Council working alongside academics from Queen Margaret University. Those involved are John Boyce, NHS Lothian, Ann Hume, East Lothian Council, Prof Kirsty Forsyth and Donald Maciver, both Queen Margaret University.

The overall aim of Changexchange is to understand how communities deliver sustainable change to reduce health inequalities in early years.

Many initiatives have developed under the auspices of Support from the Start, each with a focus on addressing the health and well-being of some of our youngest children and their families. The main aim has been to facilitate and enable mainstream services to deliver support in a different way and share the learning from this.

The key to ensuring long term change in service delivery is to establish what has made a difference both to practitioners and to those who are in receipt of the service.

The Changexchange project will seek to evaluate the impact of these initiatives by identifying changes which have taken place both within families, practice and service delivery. Information will be gathered by a variety of research methods including questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews.

The output from this research will highlight changes which have taken place within families, staff, communities and organisations, detailing examples of good practice where appropriate, and will be used to inform future service delivery.

The methodolgy used to gather this qualitative data will involve questionnaires issued to all our champions, individual interviews with a selection of champions, and focus groups involving participants in some of the change initiatives.

The first stage in this process has involved gathering information on “Good News Stories” which are initiatives that are already having an impact. These are attached below in one document.

We are about to launch into our data gathering phase so will be kept very busy over the coming 3 months.