All the latest news from the Flying Start Team in Luton.
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Issue Six: June 2016

Rob Burton

Director of the Centre for Youth & Community Development

Community Member of the Flying Start Partnership
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Hello and welcome to this edition of Flying Start News
My name is Rob Burton and I’m the Director of the Centre for Youth & Community Development (CYCD) based in Bury Park. As an organisation that works to support community life in Luton and as a longstanding part of local life, we are pleased to be a member of the Flying Start Partnership.

At CYCD, we provide services and projects which include our Pre-school Nursery, children’s clubs and after-school clubs, youth work for girls and boys, women’s groups, adult education and clubs for children and young people with disability and special needs.

Education and social needs of children and young people is central to what we do at CYCD and I am pleased that we are linked to the Flying Start Project.

We have just started to deliver the ante-natal parenting programme, Bump to Babe, which is an evidence-based short course for expectant mums as part of ante-natal pathway. Many of our service-users are from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani community where low levels of English language skills is a significant barrier to accessing health and education services. 

Tahmina Haque, Little Stars Pre-school Manager, who provides interpreting at the Bump to Babe sessions said “We’ve received really good feedback; I’ve seen an improvement in the way the women communicate and are happy to open up about their situation and worries so quickly.”
To be honest, it is so easy to get bogged down with dealing with day to day issues; one of the strengths of being part of the Flying Start Partnership is that we are able to look at the bigger picture, the trends, examples of evidence based work and different ways of doing things and knowing that the Flying Start team are here to help when we need it.
Rob Burton
Director, Centre for Youth & Community Development
Community Member of the Flying Start Partnership
Flying Start Conference 2016:
The First Eighteen Months – Supporting families to improve children’s life chances: a focus on the latest evidence and best practice

The evidence of what children need to be successful in life, and the consequences of not meeting those needs is becoming ever more apparent. We are often reminded of the impacts of not meeting children’s needs on their health and wellbeing, on their academic outcomes and ultimately, on their life chances.

The 2016 Flying Start Conference drew nearly 100 participants from over 20 organisations across the Flying Start Partnership to consider the evidence of what children need to be successful and how we can work together across the Partnership to ensure that Luton’s children have the best possible start in life.

The Conference featured a range of speakers from national organisations including Public Health England, The Fatherhood Institute, Tavistock Relationships as well as the Pre-school Learning Alliance, with a local perspective provided by Flying Start Partnership speakers from Luton Borough Council, the University of Bedfordshire and the Flying Start Core Team.

Speakers drew on national evidence to highlight key messages for Flying Start’s work:
  • Neil Leitch (Chief Executive at the Pre-school Learning Alliance): National early years’ policy is driven by economics. The best interest of the child should always be the primary consideration.
  • Professor Aliko Ahmed (East of England Director of Public Health England): Stark illustration of life-chance inequalities – inequalities begin at birth so it’s important to reach out both in pregnancy and early life.
  • Honor Rhodes OBE (Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Tavistock Relationships): In Luton 15% of children have lived with the consequences of parental relationship breakdown; Couples who engage in frequent intense and poorly resolved inter-parental conflicts put the child’s life at risk; Both parents matter to the successful future of all children.
  • Professor Viv Bennett CBE (Chief Nurse for Public Health England): First few weeks and months are critical; Retain a focus on two-year olds, don't wait until five years; Think about the family in every situation; Prevention and early intervention needs good universal services.
  • Kathy Jones (Chief Executive Officer at The Fatherhood Institute): ‘Dads don’t babysit, It’s called parenting’; Everyone has a critical role to play in emphasising the importance of the father’s role.
Flying Start – underpinned by research evidence
Flying Start works to achieve the wellbeing of young children and their families by developing evidence-based practice. This was acknowledged by Vice Chancellor Bill Rammell when he spoke about the research partnership between Flying Start and the University of Bedfordshire and the importance of research evidence informing Flying Start, whilst Professor Gurch Randhawa highlighted the importance of the transition of research to practical outcomes and the power of data to promote Luton and to help make a difference to children’s lives.

Making a commitment to the future
Collaboration between partners, parents and local communities is critical to the success of Flying Start. In the words of Sally Rowe (Director of People at Luton Borough Council): “Flying Start provides the bedrock” of Luton’s investment planning for the future, and with the future very much in mind, Conference participants – our Flying Start partners – were each asked to make a pledge of their commitment to play their part in Flying Start. In the words of one of the participants, a pledge to “make a difference to families’ lives in Luton”.
Tubes of Life
- Elaine Ainsworth, Safe at Home

Supporting a safe & healthy start for babies in Luton from conception through the early months after birth     

Flying Start and Luton Public Health are working together to deliver Tubes of Life, a training programme for front-line practitioners. Recently launched during Child Safety Week, Tubes of Life highlights the way different ‘tubes’ provide oxygen to the baby and the importance of oxygen to a child’s developing brain – from conception and during pregnancy through the umbilical ‘tube’ and once the infant is born through the airway ‘tube’.

We are at Picnic in the Park at Wardown Park on 13th July 10am – 2pm. Come and visit our stall!

For more information on Tubes of Life please click here, or contact Elaine Ainsworth, Safe at Home Coordinator on 0755 3348 485 or
To enquire or book training contact: Jessica Wilson on 01582 548 356 or

Follow Tubes of Life on Twitter #tubesoflife and share our journey

Me Time Family
Matt Corder, Active Luton

Supporting parents to lead an active lifestyle with their young children

Our hectic lifestyles often get in the way of spending  quality time with our children, doing something active and enjoyable, yet we know that being active is not only good for them, it’s good for us as adults as well!

Physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK. In fact, physical inactivity directly contributes to one in six deaths – the same number as smoking! What’s even more concerning is that a lack of a culture of physical activity is often passed on to our children!

Working together with our partners from Active Luton, our local leisure trust, we are keen to ensure that families have the opportunity to be active together through the ME TIME FAMILY programme.

This programme offers the chance for adults to enjoy some fun and enjoyable physical activity with their children in a safe environment. This programme is for children from 0 - 5 years as well as mums and dads from pregnancy, focusing primarily on residents in the priority wards of Dallow, Northwell, Biscot, South and Farley – but families who live across Luton are also eligible to sign up.

To help ensure that families can access this programme at an affordable price, participants will receive a FREE Go4Less card and a ME TIME FAMILY 10 for £10 voucher, enabling them to get into each session for as little as £1 per session!

Active Luton has now been delivering the ME TIME FAMILY programme for the last nine months. It has been very successful and we now have over 350 people on the programme who have signed up and are taking part in the fantastic programme on offer. There are over 25 sessions they can attend across Active Luton centres including both dry-side and wet-side activities as well as community-based sessions within our priority wards. Sessions in our targets wards include Aqua Babies, Mininastics, Fit to Push and lots more!

Parents can access the ME TIME FAMILY programme by telephoning Active Luton on 01582 400272 to register with the Flying Start ME TIME FAMILY team or by being referred by health and social care professionals.

For more information about the programme:
A referral form for professionals can be downloaded from the Flying Start website by clicking here.

The Parental Couple Relationship and its impact on children

A recent publication by the Early Intervention Foundation of the evidence around the parental couple relationship and its impact on children has been carried out by Professor Gordon Harold from Sussex University supported by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The review found that the quality of the parental relationship can affect children’s long-term mental health and wellbeing while also adversely affecting wider aspects of family functioning, including parenting quality. Key findings include:

  • Parents embroiled in hostile and distressed relationships are typically more hostile and aggressive toward their children and are less responsive to their children’s needs.
  • Children who witness severe and ongoing inter-parental conflict can be aggressive, hostile and violent. Others can develop low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. It also reduces their academic performance and limits the development of their social and emotional skills and ability to form relationships themselves.
  • Inter-parental conflict can adversely affect both the mother-child and father-child relationships.
  • Improving inter-parental relationships is a neglected area for early intervention services with little attention paid to it by maternity, children’s and family services.
  • Interventions which seek to improve parenting skills in the presence of frequent, severe and unresolved inter-parental conflict – without addressing that conflict – are unlikely to be successful in improving child outcomes.

Click here to read the Executive Summary of this report

Free brief parental couple counselling service for Luton couples – early help for couples with young children

Flying Start is piloting a free brief couples’ counselling service, designed to provide early help support to parents with young children who are struggling with their relationship and would benefit with evidence-based support. The daytime and evening sessions are being delivered by Bedfordshire and Luton Relate at the Tokko youth building in Luton. Please note that childcare is not provided.
The service is being funding by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Luton is one of twelve local authorities who have received this funding to increase the focus on the importance of the parental couple relationship and support a Local Offer to families.

If you are working with any families who feel they may benefit from this service, please contact Relate on 01234 356350 or email Families can self-refer to access the service as well.
Click here for more information on this service delivered by Relate
Click here to see the parents' leaflet – if you would like additional copies of these for distribution please contact Jessica Wilson on 01582 548356 or email

For more information

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Telephone: 01582 548356



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