Cosy Kids

I am always astounded by the fact that so many homes are still energy inefficient in the 21st century, when often simple measures can make a big difference. Linking families in need with Changeworks might be the best way for professionals to make a difference for their clients.

Below is a new release from Changeworks – a charity that supports people to be more energy efficient and to improve their environment through reducing energy cost whilst being able to afford a warm home.

£100,000 ScottishPower Energy People Trust Grant To Help East Coast Infants Stay Cosy

A new project that will help hundreds of East Coast families with young children to stay warm was launched today, thanks to The ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

The Cosy Kids project will help over 200 vulnerable households and 400 additional individuals – including many new babies and pre-school children – in Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian – to live in affordably warm, damp-free homes.

The project is being funded entirely by a £117,000 grant from The ScottishPower Energy People Trust. The Trust was established in January to fund not-for-profit organisations that help vulnerable families and young people who need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills and suffer from fuel poverty.

Managed by the Edinburgh-based charity Changeworks (formerly LEEP), the grant will involve setting up a specialised unit that will primarily work with health visitors to ensure that young children are not living in cold, damp and draughty homes which will affect their health.

The Cosy Kids project will also: promote energy efficiency grants, refer people to money advice and advocacy services, provide talks to groups of new parents about keeping their homes affordably warm and dry, educate health visitors in the area about the benefits of warm housing and visit families in their own homes to assess the type of help they need.

The grant marks a watershed in the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, which has now committed almost £1 million to projects that are tackling fuel poverty in communities throughout Great Britain.

Willie McDiarmid, Managing Director of ScottishPower, said: “The Cosy Kids project is a worthy recipient of funding from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, which is unique in channelling funds to those organisations that are working at grassroots levels to assist the most needy members of society who are living in fuel poverty.

“The Cosy Kids project will reach hundreds of the youngest and newest members of our society who often suffer most from fuel poverty. By using existing networks of health visitors, community groups and crèches to provide advice and grants, help will be given to vulnerable people when they need it most.”

He added: “The ScottishPower Energy People Trust is one of its kind in the UK and since we launched in January this year, almost £1 million in grants have been awarded to projects which tackle fuel poverty all over Britain, many of which focus on families, children and young people. We are now looking forward to supporting many other projects that are working to eradicate fuel poverty around the country.”

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust grant will fund Cosy Kids for two years and will use a network of health visitors, community groups for mothers and toddlers, crèches and the Community Education Service to reach vulnerable families.

Simon Lee, Chief Executive of Changeworks, said: “Changeworks is already working to alleviate fuel poverty through successful initiatives such as Warm and Well, so I am delighted that ScottishPower is supporting the ground breaking Cosy Kids project. This grant will help us to focus on the families by making sure that parents get the advice, information and support they need to enable them to keep their homes warm and dry and that children get a better start in life”.

For more information please contact:

Josie Saunders
the BIG partnership
0141 333 9585/07881 816 283

Ellen Arnison
the BIG partnership
0141 333 9585/07879 427 410

Healthy & the Built Environment Seminar

Colleagues from the Glasgow City test site came through to East Lothian to give a presentation a ‘Health Bites’ seminar hosted by the East Lothian Public Health team

Here is the report from the  seminar held on 15th June 2010 in Musselburgh East Community Learning Centre. The presentation can be viewed in an earlier post

Healthy environment Seminar Report 15 06 10

Lickety Leap – theatre for the early years

I was privileged to see Lickety leap performed in two East Lothian nurseries and was amazed at the engagement of the children in this piece of theatre – for over an hour they were completely immersed in imaginative play. Follow up sessions with the parents and children showed how much they had retained of the original performance and how much the children had taken home with them.

The theatre company Lickety Spit have found a formula for involving children in theatre but also of engaging parents in the imaginative world of children, that I think is really valuable.  Ten performances and follow up sessions of Lickety Leap are planned as part of the civic conversation around Support from the Start in Midlothian.

The performance and follow up session with parent that I took part in were part of a study looking at the impact of the work and the report from this is currently being finalised and will be launched in the near future.

‘Leaping into ourselves” – the Lickety Leap Study – Launch event has been commissioned by Glasgow City Council and East Lothian Council Arts  Services with support from EIS. 

 Lickety Leap is a groundbreaking immersive theatre project for Early  Years children created by Licketyspit. The Study undertaken in  Drumchapel and East Lothian Nurseries this year by Stephanie Knight,  has tested and examined the layers of engagement of the participating  children. Initial findings suggest this is highly relevant to current   thinking in relation to child development. 
 This event will present the report and a film about the project   together with seminars and guest speakers on the use of art in support  of child health, well being and aspiration in both educational and 
 community settings. 
 Children’s Theatre Company Licketys pit, delivers a unique creative  experience for Early Years children through developing and performing  work that is also highly successful in the support of children with   additional needs. Productions include: Magic Spaghetti,   Heelie-go-Leerie, Molly Whuppie, Wee Witches & Green Whale.

For more information about Lickety Spit theatre company vi st their website

‘It takes a village to raise a child’

 We all intuitively know that communities have a vital role to play in children’s development and learning.  Science is increasingly pointing to the importance of the pre-school years to the child’s capacity to learn, as well as their future health and well being. Yet we don’t measure or assess what  communities contribute to their children’s development and learning pre school.  If we don’t measure it, how can we  change it?

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a way of measuring children’s development and readiness to learn by the time they reach formal schooling – it was developed in British Columbia and has been adopted around the world. East Lothian is to pilot EDI in a Scottish context in partnership with the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health. The instrument is a community level tool, it does not measure individual performance, but rather how many children in a given community are developmentally vulnerable on one of five domains. In effect it measures how well a community is supporting its early years children. Where it has been used in other countries it has allowed for a community to become more actively involved in supporting early years issues.

A small group has been established to organise the testing of the tool on a small scale and training staff in its use before rolling out accross East Lothian. A wider stakeholder group(s) will be brought together to once this initial work is completed to look at the information that is developed from the instrument and how it might be used.

Dr Rosemary Geddes prepared this presentation on EDI for the Support from the Start planning board held in July

Early Child Development in Scotland_July7_97-2000

EDI_communityeffects_summarySCPHRP (2)

Mapping support and interventions for attachment


Service mapping has been one of the goals of the test site in East and Midlothian – this has been focused on the ten medium term outcomes for the test site. These outcomes draw on existing service planning for health and social care services and were agreed as part of the  logic model for the test site by the planning board for Support from the Start. The objective of  the maps is to represent the path to achieving the agreed outcomes – what is that we are already doing that helps us achieve the outcome we are aiming for and what are the gaps.

Improve emotional well being  (draft)

Support from the Start Breastfeeding pathway summary (2)

Increase proportion of newborn children breastfed at 6-8 weeks (final)

Reduce Obesity Levels in p1 (draft)

Reduce pregnancies in under 16 year olds (draft)

Oral health draft)

Reduce Smoking Rates in Pregnancy (draft)

Increase opportunity for involving parents and children in services (draft)

Increase number of Health Impact Assessments on new developments (no pathwayidentified as yet)

Improved outcomes for looked after children (no pathwayidentified as yet)

Improve Readiness for learning (Draft)

Janice Macleod (School nurse manager and Leisa Randall (educational psychologist are now leading on the mapping of an attachment pathway for East Lothian. This work has been generated by discussions in the service champions action learning sets and Janice’s indefatigable enthusiasm for early intervention and the role of attachement 

A session has been organised to bring ‘stakeholders’ together to map out what is already happening to support the identification of attachment issues and how children and parents who are having difficulties with attachment are supported and access services. The output from this session will help to inform what interventions need and can be developed to shape this area of work in the future.

Mapping an attachment pathway V3

The outcome for pathway mapping session will be posted here

Whitecraig – making a difference

 This is my first attempt at posting an interview from the  ‘voxur’ unit which has been used to get views of comunity members and professionals about early years issues.

This is Tracey from Whitecraig talking about the impact Support from the Start has had on early years in that community.

tracey doran

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

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

Service Champions

A key feature of ‘Support from the Start’ – East Lothian’s Equally Well test site are Service Champions.

A service champion is an individual who has been identified as someone who can lead on the learning needed to address health inequalities within their service area.  This doesn’t mean that they are the only person within that service who carries the responsibility for health inequality – tackling health inequality is all of our responsibility. The role of the service champion is to bring the experience and knowledge of their service area to the work of Support from the Start, and to bring what they learn from Support from the Start to their service areas.

Service Champions will have a key role in linking across service boundaries and in making sure that health inequality is high on the agenda for services within East Lothian.

The expectations of a Service champion are :-

  • Communicating the vision and values of ‘Support from the Start’ within their service area
  • Bringing the experience and knowledge of their service area to a multi agency ‘action learning set’. 
  • Supporting services to identify training & information needs related to ‘Support from the Start’
  • Contributing as appropriate to this online learning log.
  • Be willing to participate, as appropriate, in the dissemination of the East Lothian Test Site experience to other authorities and agencies within Scotland.

Service Champions will be drawn from a range of services from both the statutory and voluntary sector. Senior managers have been asked to identify the right people for this role, and this process is currently underway . The names and contact details of Service Champions will be posted shortly.

Support from the Start

Scotland’s public health minister Shona Robinson chaired a ministerial taskforce to look at how Scotland can challenge the kind of inequality that leads to significantly different health outcomes for different parts of our community. The taskforce published a report called ‘Equally Well’ which amongst a number of recommendations called for the setting up of ‘test sites’ to lead on the learning that is needed to address the issue of health inequality. East Lothian has been selected as one of eight test sites in Scotland with a focus on early years and parenting. We have called the test site in East Lothian ‘Support from the Start’ to reflect the aim of ensuring that communities and services are doing all that is possible to address the health needs of the youngest members of our community in the areas where we know that health outcomes are poorest.

Support from the Start is not a short term project but rather a focus within all mainstream services on health inequality in the early years of life. Governance for the programme will be provided by a steering Board consisting of Councillor Roger Knox (Depute Provost & Health Spokesman); Councillor Ruth Currie (Cabinet Member for Joint Future & Community Care & Youth Champion); Sue Ross (Director of Community Services & Chair of Joint Health Improvement Project Board); Don Ledingham (Acting Director of Education & Children’s Services & Chair of Children’s Services Chief Officers Group); Gerry Power (General Manager East Lothian Community Health Partnership)  This group will provide strategic leadership and ensure that all relevant planning groups are involved in developing Support from the Start.

Four broad outcome areas for mainstream services in relation to health inequality have been identified:-

  • Community Engagement with key health issues in the early years,
  • Improving Support for Parents & Carers,
  • Improving Support for Families,
  • Creating Child Friendly Environments

We know that there is already lots of good practise in these areas but ‘Support from the Start’ will be asking service providers to review what they are are already doing with the following questions in mind : –

  • How do we get our communities, parents and children involved in key health improvement challenges for the early years of life? e.g. increasing the number of breastfeeding mothers, reducing passive smoking in the home environment, increasing physical activity levels of children in the early years, improving diet and dental hygiene
  • Do East Lothian services make it easy for parents to be ‘good enough’, and can parents access the right support, early enough when they are finding it hard to cope?
  • How do we target support for children and families that are at risk of poor health, and is it effective?
  • Does the physical space of our communities contribute to creating good health in the early years and support parents in raising healthy children safely

 Key to ensuring success in this endeavour will be engagement, leadership and learning. A process has started to identify individuals from across a range of services who can act as ‘champions’ for ‘Support from the Start’. These champions will be tasked with creating a learning environment in their service areas on the issues of health and social justice related to tackling health inequality in the early years. The champions will be contributors to this blog.

My hope for this web log is that it will be a space in which discussion and reflection on the complex task of reducing health inequalities in East Lothian can be supported and encouraged.

All views and opinions welcome.

Steven Wray

Health Improvement Development Officer