A Better Start Southend

About the project

A Better Start Southend (ABSS) is a 10-year programme to develop and test new ways of supporting Southend’s children and families. It is about using new ways of thinking to solve some of the problems that have affected local children and families for years. The programme started life in April 2015 and is one of five Better Start areas across the country funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

The programme supports families of under 4s and expectant parents living in six of Southend’s Wards; Kursaal, Milton, Victoria, Shoeburyness, West Shoebury and Westborough.

The Turning Tides Team at SAVS is contracted to help introduce new parents to the programme, to promote co-production and to run Parent Champion and Ambassador Training. We also offer support and guidance in many different ways to parents who are part of the programme.


Parent Champion Training

Parent Champion Training is a three session course focusing on building your confidence, opening up new opportunities and involving you in the process of implementing change in your community.

Benefits of becoming a Parent Champion:


  • Learn about A Better Start Southend and the benefits of its projects
  • Learn about SAVS and Turning Tides
  • Get your voice heard about important local topics
  • Learn about Parent Champion opportunities
  • Build your confidence and develop your communication skills
  • Learn about services available to children in Southend
  • Learn about co-production and co-design
  • Be part of the designing of local children services
  • Learn about Safeguarding, Policies and Procedures
  • Have the opportunity to attend Governance Meetings, Parent Forums and Ward Panels
  • Hear from a current Parent Champion about their journey
  • Take part in upskilling workshops

“Becoming a Parent Champion has not only allowed me to represent the voice of local parents at important meetings but has also given me the confidence to believe in my own potential and abilities.”
Michelle (Parent Champion)

Introduction to ABSS

Learn more about A Better Start Southend and have the opportunity of sharing the benefits of the programme with your friends, family and community by becoming a Parent Ambassador.


The Ambassador Role:


  • Learn all about A Better Start Southend.
  • Spread the word about the programme to friends, family and people you know.
  • Share your experiences and knowledge of individual projects within the programme.
  • Be the first to know about free activities and events in your area.
  • Be your community’s connection to A Better Start Southend.
  • Take part in the free programme of events.
ABSS Ambassadors

And lots more…

ABSS Engagement Event

Engagement Events


A chance to take part in fun events for you and your children. Engagement Events provide an opportunity to experience the benefits of A Better Start Southend through interactive sessions.

All Engagement Events are Parent Led, meaning parents have thought of the idea and delivered the session. Previous events include Teddy Bears’ Picnics, Fun Fitness Classes, Healthy Eating Workshops and big Festive Celebrations. If you have an idea for an event, our Engagement Team will support you through the process.

ABSS Coffee Sessions

Tea & Tots and Coffee Sessions


Four Tea & Tots sessions are held each month in venues across Southend providing an opportunity for parents/carers to enjoy a chat and talk about new ideas they’d like to see made available to families in their area. A supervised play session is included for children to enjoy and the Engagement team on hand to provide information and support for parents as needed.

Coffee mornings are a chance for you to drop in for a tea or coffee and a catch-up with the Engagement Team and other parents. They’re a great informal way to meet other like-minded parents.

ABSS Research

Research & Co-production


By signing up to A Better Start Southend, we’ll be able to keep you informed about local workshops and meetings relating to children services in Southend. We’re also often approached by research projects and organisations who would like to hear the opinions and experiences of local parents.
Co-production, meaning parents being involved in the design and delivery of services is an essential part of A Better Start Southend. We’ll let you know when projects are coming up that you can be part of designing.

ABSS Governance

Governance Meetings


Parent Champions are able to attend Governance Meetings, which oversee and help to manage A Better Start Southend. By attending these meetings, parents are able to have full visibility about the services being delivered and how the programme is being managed. They are also an opportunity to raise concerns, or provide essential input thanks to their experiences of being parents.

ABSS Conference

Communications Group


If you are creative, or would like to learn new skills, then the Communications Group is for you! Projects relating to Social Media, digital, design, illustration and general creativity are worked on with parents via a monthly meeting. Previous projects include; newsletters, mascot designing, social media campaigns, radio interviews, creating Southend’s first parent and child conference and even being on BBC One.

ABSS Promotion

ABSS Promotion


You’ll see the Engagement Team at various locations and events in Southend helping to promote the benefits of A Better Start Southend. We attend community events, schools, nurseries and local meetings to help spread the word. We always welcome any help from parents too.
You might also spot Pip, the mascot, out and about engaging the community.

Funding Opportunities


Community Ideas and Development Fund


The ABSS Community Ideas and Development (CID) Fund is seeking to support community led change. This fund helps support community groups and organisations who have a great idea about how to improve lives for Southend’s expectant families, young children and parents, assisting them to put their creativity into action.


Successful project proposals will;


  • Be innovative and creative
  • Help us to achieve our goals and strategic objectives
  • Bring forward new ideas
  • Support approaches which build partnership working
  • Be sustainable in the long-term
  • Look to deliver specialist interventions, where appropriate.


For more information please email absspmo@eyalliance.org.uk

To find out more call the SAVS ABSS Team on 01702 356 069

Latest News from ABSS

Parent Champion Case Study

PC Donna


Parent Champion


Donna has been involved with A Better Start since September 2018; she was asked along to a Coffee Session by a friend and has now become a Parent Champion.


Before she found A Better Start, Donna had been uprooted to Shoebury where she did not know anyone, being a single parent of two with low self confidence and learning difficulties, Donna found herself not really going outside of the house to socialise, instead she relied on the family support of her Mother and neighbours.


Since then Donna has found new friends that encourage her along to new things and help support her when she needs it. She is happy to try new courses that come out such as ‘Being a Parent’, HENRY programme, Perinatal Mental Health Training and Work Skills, she has also completed the Parent Champion Training course which has allowed her to be part of service design and conferences helping her to keep busy and think about the changes she would like to see with her family and the community as well.


Donna feels that she is slowly seeing the changes in the community from A Better Start Southend but is keen to help this process along through talking to other parents and getting other organisations involved to help spread the word. Through attending different meetings with professionals Donna feels that changes are being made in the way that the system works and she feels like the parents voice is now being heard but there is still a way to go, although a lot of this comes down to funding. Donna spoke about how she would like to see more work on outside spaces and parks in Shoebury and more shops around Southend.


Donna felt that her entire journey through A Better Start is a highlight, she has been able to meet all different kinds of people, and she is thankful for the SAVS childcare volunteers as well as the crèche and really enjoys the Engagement Events as well. The only downside to A Better Start for Donna is that there are a lot meetings, so sometimes she feels a little stretched thin especially if the timings fall poorly for school drop and pick up times.


Donna summed up that she has really enjoyed being part of this project, the staff take the time to help and support parents, she has been able to step out of her comfort zone and meet professionals from all different jobs and help to steer the community to a better future.

In Partnership with

Early Years Alliance

Early Years Alliance


The Early Years Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. Our vision is a society where every child enjoys the opportunity to learn through play. We believe families should be at the centre of policy-making and empowered to become fully involved with their child’s learning and development.

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