New family hub to help give parents and children the ‘Best Start for Life’ gets boost as Portsmouth becomes eligible for £300m fund
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The city is one of 75 upper tier local authorities now eligible to receive funding from the £301.75 million Family Hubs and Start for Life programme.
As a one-stop-shop for families to access important services, Portsmouth’s new hub will focus on supporting families of children of all ages, but particularly the 1,0001 days from a baby’s conception to turning the age of two.
Jo Toms, operations manager at Home-Start Portsmouth, is pleased with the ‘good news’ about the fund.
She said: ‘I would pursue this idea for the new family hub with or without news of this funding, but I believe it’s so important for parents and their children to receive the best start in life.
‘I think we need to invest more in the earliest days of a child’s life.
‘I’m pleased that it’s been recognised by central government as it’s so important.’
Home-Start Portsmouth aims to run support groups and parenting courses for new parents, as well as continuing its home visiting support to ensure that families feel well supported.
Jo said that the pandemic has had a big impact on parents, and quoted research which suggests that while 38 per cent of parents felt lonely and isolated before the pandemic, this number has now leapt up to 55 per cent.
She added: ‘Post-pandemic, we are really keen to work on a Best Start for Life project.
‘MP Andrea Leadsom and her cross-party parliamentary group published a report last year called Best Start for Life about focusing more support to pregnant families and getting the first two years of a child’s life right.
‘This is so beneficial later on in life.
‘If you can get that right as services, charities, and local authorities, and offer parents that valuable support, then outcomes and children and parents improve.
‘There are less likely to be issues and illnesses, and resilience in families grows - families know where to go for support.’
Home-Start Portsmouth hopes that the local Best Start for Life project will get going in early 2023.
Jo is keen to expand the support offered by the charity to pregnant mums and dads as she feels that ‘the support is needed’.
She added: ‘Our whole reason for being is to offer compassionate, nurturing support for parents through the projects we deliver.’
Portsmouth was selected for this eligibility to receive funding due to data on family incomes and the proportion of children who might need extra support.
Jo added: ‘Child poverty exists in Portsmouth. There’s pockets of affluence and pockets of deprivation, and Penny Mordaunt has campaigned tirelessly to make sure Portsmouth doesn’t miss out in the levelling up agenda.
‘I was really pleased to see that we would be able to access the funding.’