Building Great Britons

February 26, 2015 Published by

I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the Building Great Britons report at Westminster yesterday. The report is aimed at policy makers and organisations that support families and therefore crosses a lot of political departments – health, education, justice, welfare, etc. The combined costs to these departments for getting the first 1001 days (from conception to the age of 2) wrong is, according to the report, costing the country £23 billion each year.

It’s not difficult to see why not only for financial reasons but for the good of society and the sake of the children, we need to prioritise preventative and early intervention for families who aren’t able to give children the start in life they need and deserve.

The First 1001 days

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 10.09.23The report makes 9 recommendations for funding, prioritising and implementing good practice when it comes to agencies supporting families around the time of their babies’ births. These are all evidence based, sensible recommendations that I hope will be put into practice by whoever wins the next election. Cleverly, this was a cross party initiative so should be palatable to whoever is next responsible for this area. However, the recommendations are only the start and they are by no mean enough. The are aimed at supporting vulnerable families but there are a huge number of families who aren’t deemed ‘at risk’ but who are struggling and are in danger of falling into negative behaviour patterns that are associated with many of the issues this report is trying to address. Whilst early identification and intervention is important, prevention is even more valuable and you don’t necessarily need groups of professionals involved. As a society we need to be more aware of and open to the needs and demands on young families and act in ways that promote the health and development of babies.

There’s already a huge number of family members, child care professionals, teachers or interested family and friends, who are well-placed to help parents give their children the best start in life – we don’t need to wait until the next election to begin. Whilst the government spends the next few months in a state of flux, lets get moving with giving our children the best start in life.

How can you help support a new parent?

  1. Bring round food – cake, dinner, or just a pack of biscuits. Parents are often so wrapped up in their children that they neglect themselves and coming round with a token offering shows them not only that you’re there to help/listen but that you have some understanding of their needs.
  2. Make it fun. Parents can feel overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious. By sharing a laugh with the parent or interacting playfully with the baby, we can reduce the cortisol levels and promote a more relaxed environment which is beneficial for both parent and child.
  3. Offer to go along to your local children’s centre with them. Children’s centres, NCT groups or mother and toddler sessions are a great source of support, advice and resources. They can be daunting to go to alone so do some research and find one that is suitable for you to go along to together.
  4. Talk to the parents to find out what they need and help them find their own solutions to the issues, directing them to the relevant agency or organisation where appropriate.
  5. Don’t give unsolicited advice. Many parents are bombarded with advice and much of it only serves to make them feel inadequate. Be helpful, be available but don’t interfere unless you think there is a real danger to the parent or child.

The full report, along with full details of all the submissions given for this report are available from 1001 Critical Days. The website is currently struggling with high volumes of traffic, so check back soon!

What did you need in the first 1001 days of your child’s life? Do you feel that your needs were met? Let us know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

 

 

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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