The Turning Tides Team are happy to Introduce the ...
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 is a five 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:
“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)
Learn more about A Better Start Southend and help share the benefits of the programme with your friends, family and community.
The Ambassador Role:
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.
Parent Forums are held each month and are a place where the voice of local parents can be heard. Guided by our Engagement Team, parents are able to discuss important local topics, vote on engagement ideas and find out information about local services. The forums are relaxed and you are welcome to bring children along, who will be looked after by our childcare volunteers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.