All the latest news from the Flying Start Team in Luton.
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Issue Five: April 2016
Professor Gurch Randhawa
Director, Institute for Health Research, University of Bedfordshire
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Welcome to Flying Start News

It is great to see the evidence-based approach that underpins the Flying Start programme. As a member of the Flying Start Partnership, the University of Bedfordshire is delighted to be working with the range of Flying Start stakeholders to ensure that we collectively ensure maximum benefit for local residents. The Institute for Health Research (which is ranked in the top 50 in the UK for Health Research – Research Excellence 2014) has a long-established international track-record for carrying out research that informs policy and practices in relation to health inequalities. Our Vice Chancellor, Bill Rammell, has sought to ensure that University research investment has a direct benefit on the local health economy. Consequently, the University has been able to invest in a range of areas to support the inception of the Flying Start Programme in Luton:
  • Research to explore parents’ views and practices in relation to feeding their children a healthy diet and their perceptions of a healthy weight for healthy children – led by Dr Faye Powell
  • Research to explore community perceptions of cousin marriage (co-funded by Luton Public Health) – led by Dr Nasreen Ali
  • Research to explore and explain, maternal factors that contribute to stillbirth and neonatal mortality in babies born to Pakistani, Bangladeshi and white British women, living in Luton (co-funded by the Steel Trust) – led by Rebecca Garcia
Significantly, to build upon the partnership approach, Flying Start and the University have co-invested in two key areas:
  • Senior Research & Evaluation Research Fellow to evaluate key Flying Start projects (Dr Rosemary Davidson)
  • PhD Studentship to explore the role of father’s involvement in pregnancy and early years and its impact on children’s nutrition, communication and social development among disadvantaged families in Luton (Louisa Donald)
These investments will enable us to establish a ‘Luton’ evidence-base as to what works locally and why. This will be essential as we seek to roll out good practice from the Flying Start programme.

Professor Gurch Randhawa
Director, Institute for Health Research, University of Bedfordshire
Member of the Flying Start Partnership
Flying Start Conference - 8 June 2016

Supporting families to improve children's life chances - a focus on the latest evidence and best practice

The Flying Start Conference 2016 will be held on Wednesday 8 June at Putteridge Bury Conference Centre, Hitchin Road, Luton LU2 8LE.

The Conference will include national and local keynote speakers including Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance; Honor Rhodes OBE, Director of Strategy, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and Trustee, Early Intervention Foundation; Kathy Jones, Chief Executive, Fatherhood Institute and Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.
The Conference will include:
  • Presentations on the latest national policy context in the early years and public health with a focus on the Government's forthcoming Life Chances Strategy, tackling inequalities and social mobility
  • Presentations and workshops on the latest evidence of the importance of fathers and the couple relationship and how these impact on children’s outcomes
  • An overview of the evaluation of Flying Start 
  • And there will be an opportunity to find out more about the implementation of Flying Start.
For more information about the Flying Start Conference 2016, please email
Flying Start Parenting Offer

Flying Start will be implementing a range of evidence-based parenting programmes over the next few months. One of the first is Incredible Years®.

Incredible Years Preschool Basic Parenting Programme® is an evidence-based programme which focuses on the strengths of parent-child interactions and attachment, reducing harsh discipline and fostering parents’ ability to promote children’s social, emotional and language development.

Parents also learn how to build school readiness skills and are encouraged to partner with teachers and early years professionals so they can promote children’s emotional regulation and social skills.

In the parenting groups, trained Incredible Years® facilitators use video clips of real-life situational vignettes to support the training and trigger parenting group discussions, problem solving, and practice exercises.

Within Luton our first group is starting in April. For further information on this programme or to refer a family please contact Gillian Smith, Flying Start Parenting Co-ordinator on 01582 548336 or email

For more about Incredible Years® in Luton click here

For information about the Incredible Years® Preschool Basic Program click here.

© 2015 The Incredible Years®, Inc. All rights reserved. "THE INCREDIBLE YEARS®" and all related trademarks are owned by The Incredible Years®, Inc. USA. Limited use of trademarks and copyrighted material is by license from The Incredible Years®, Inc. All program materials must be ordered through
Supporting the parental couple relationship and children’s outcomes – one-year funding secured to support Luton pilot support for families

Flying Start has just secured one-year grant funding from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for a pilot programme known as the Local Family Offer. This work is part of the Government’s Life Chances Strategy, which is due for publication this summer and aims to tackle the root causes of disadvantage and deprivation. The Local Family Offer seeks to support local areas to develop a couple relationship approach to its work as a means of supporting children’s outcomes.

We will be testing a number of pilots as part of this work. This includes:
  • staff training on the parental couple relationship
  • a parenting programme for couples with young children, thinking about how they work together as parents and partners, and
  • training for midwives and health visitors on supporting the parental couple relationship during the antenatal period and helping parents understand the impact of their new baby on that relationship.
For more about the Local Family Offer in Luton click here

The Early Information Foundation has recently published a report on the latest evidence highlighting the role of the parental couple relationship as an influence on children's development. For more information click here

HENRY: Health, Exercise, Nutrition in the Really Young
- Supporting a healthy start for families in Luton

Flying Start has commissioned HENRY to support Luton with tackling childhood obesity. HENRY is an evidence based innovative intervention to promote a healthy start in life by focusing on families with babies and young children from pregnancy to 5 years.

HENRY addresses the research evidence on risk and protective factors for child obesity. It adopts a holistic approach which brings together these key factors, focusing on:

  • Parenting skills
  • Eating patterns and behaviour
  • Healthy eating
  • Physical activity
  • Emotional well-being

This approach is multi-layered and offers pilot interventions for staff and parents:

  1. Training for staff – Raising the Issue to tackle obesity in the early years. This one-day free training is accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health and is for staff working with families with children 0-5 years to develop the skills and confidence to raise weight and lifestyle issues with parents. See the Flying Start Learning and Development opportunities section in this newsletter for more information.
  2. Parenting programmes – The HENRY group programme. An 8-week programme for parents and carers of babies and young children to give them the tools and skills they need to provide a healthy family lifestyle and meet the physical and emotional needs of babies and young children. This programme will be starting from September 2016.
For more information about HENRY in Luton please contact Louise Morrissey, Flying Start Diet and Nutrition lead at

To read more about the evidence base underpinning HENRY click here
Community involvement in the work of Flying Start

The local community is the cornerstone of the work of Flying Start. We need to be close to the community we serve, ensuring that it shapes our work, involving parents and the wider community in planning and delivering services.

In terms of the governance of Flying Start, we aim to bring together representatives from local communities onto the Flying Start Partnership – our main board. At a variety of levels, there are opportunities for parents and the wider community to help shape the work that we do.

We also recognise the importance of volunteers in making a difference to the lives of young children and their families in Luton. The Flying Start Strategy is clear about harnessing the skills, talents and energy of parents and of Luton’s residents in general. We see working with volunteers as something extremely positive – for both the volunteer and for Flying Start.

Flying Start Volunteers are currently supporting our work on family communication and will soon be supporting physical activities through the Me Time Family programme.

For more information about community involvement in the work of Flying Start, please contact Joe Biskupski on 01582 548356 or email

For more information about community involvement in the work of Flying Start and about our volunteering projects click here.

Flying Start Learning and Development programme – new training opportunities and online bookings

Flying Start is as much about the skills and passion of the people who work with families as the families themselves. Our aim is to ensure we get the best out of our workforce, supporting them with new skills and knowledge based on current evidence and research. Flying Start aims to transform our workforce from one that is focused on “reaction” to one which makes “primary prevention” the norm.

We have now an online booking system to book onto our evidence based training courses.

New training for staff working in Luton will be available from May 2016 including:

Introductory one-day course: Thinking about the parental couple relationship
This one-day course is aimed at practitioners working with families with babies and young children from pregnancy to 5 years of age. The course will cover raising awareness for staff about the couple's relationship and will include:

  • Brief overview of established and new research regarding the parental couple’s relationship
  • Understanding the nature of the couple relationship AND the parental couple relationship
  • Understanding of the nature and impact on the child of parental conflict
  • Understanding the hidden impact of the work on practitioners
  • Using measures and tools to help practitioners know how good they are at what they do

To book this training click here

HENRY Obesity Prevention – Raising the issue training
This one-day training is aimed at all professions who work with families with babies and young children from pregnancy to 5 years of age.

The course will cover:

  • Understanding risk and protective factors for childhood obesity
  • Developing a partnership approach to working with parents and parents to be.
  • Raising the issue and behaviour change
  • Key evidence-based messages
  • Referral to group HENRY programmes

For any queries about the training please contact Jessica Wilson at Flying Start on 01582 548356 or email 

To book this training click here

Five to Thrive training for practitioners

Five to Thrive is an approach which has been developed and tested to train practitioners to support parents to develop strong attachment with their babies through the use of five simple messages RESPOND, CUDDLE, RELAX, PLAY and TALK. This simple approach builds on the significant scientific evidence of the importance of these five activities in promoting optimal brain development in babies and young children.

The next Five to Thrive training date is Saturday 21 May at the Leagrave Centre.

To book onto Five to Thrive click here.

For more information

Flying Start Development Manager: Stephanie Cash
Telephone: 01582 547980

Flying Start Implementation Manager: Christine Rogers
Telephone: 01582 548335

Flying Start Parenting Coordinator: Gillian Smith
Telephone: 01582 548336

Flying Start Integration and Support Officer: Katrina Hyden
Telephone: 01582 548334

Flying Start Diet and Nutrition Lead: Louise Morrissey
Telephone: 01582 548337

Flying Start Midwife: Dawn Jones
Telephone: 01582 548337

Flying Start Community Participation and Volunteer Manager: Joe Biskupski
Telephone: 01582 548356

Flying Start Parenting and Workforce Training Administrator: Jess Wilson
Telephone: 01582 548356
Flying Start Website

Copyright © 2016 Flying Start, All rights reserved.

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