Learning from Bettws ELC informs a UK wide project to tackle poverty

Learning from Bettws ELC informs a UK wide project to tackle poverty

Work being carried out in Bettws Early Learning Community (ELC), to explore how bringing services, professionals and families together can change the way children living in adverse conditions are supported to learn and develop, is informing a new national project to tackle poverty.

Save the Children Cymru and mental health charity Platfform put forward Bettws ELC as an example of good practice in response to a call for learning and ideas from independent think tank New Local and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a social change charity.

The cost of living crisis has escalated the need to rethink how services can mitigate the impact of poverty and prevent people falling into deepest hardship.

As part of a UK wide project, New Local and JRF are investigating local approaches to addressing these challenges and has chosen Bettws ELC to help inform its findings.

It is particularly interested in the collaborative way of working – key to Save the Children’s Early Learning Communities programme – which is bringing services and people together to understand the needs of the community and provide the help needed to ensure children living in poverty can learn and thrive.

Learning from the recent launch of the Embrace project, which is using storytelling to understand the lived experiences and needs of families in Bettws and find ways of improving community wellbeing and resilience, will also be shared.

Rebecca Thomas, Bettws ELC Lead, Save the Children Cymru said, “We are really pleased that our work in Bettws ELC can contribute to this learning exchange and that we can share our experiences with this national project. There is so much good work going on across the UK despite these challenging times for everyone.

“Central to our approach is working closely with families and local services such as early education, family support and health and social care to get to the root of the causes of deep poverty for children.

“This means working in partnership to improve children’s life chances by addressing how people work together across a community and what is going on under the surface.

“We know that with the right support, every child can flourish – but sometimes we need to nudge ‘the system’ to work better. It’s time to explore what today’s children and families need and how to redesign our approach and services to better help them.”

The work of Bettws ELC and the Embrace project will now be used to inform the findings of the UK-wide project called ‘Designing Out Deep Poverty and Destitution’ which aims to show what can practically be done to make a difference.

This will include Save the Children Cymru taking part in a workshop later this month to;

  • share experience and insight on different types of local responses to poverty including support, prevention and community led action
  • Explore how these different types of local response could together have wider impact in a place
  • Reflect on current practice and learning and look to what could be possible in the future

New Local and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation will then publish a report sharing what has been learnt from the project and how this connects to national policy and debate.

To find out more about the project please visit Designing out deep poverty and destitution – New Local

Watch our Bettws Early Learning Community animation video here

Bettws Early Learning Community project features in Clinical Psychology Forum Magazine

Bettws Early Learning Community project features in Clinical Psychology Forum Magazine

Work to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and families in Bettws has been published in this month’s edition of Clinical Psychology Forum magazine.

The article focuses on the collaborative work between Save the Children Cymru, mental health charity Platfform and families in Bettws to improve community wellbeing, build connections and support, and improve early learning outcomes for children from birth to seven years old.

It builds on and shares the evidence which has helped to shape the approach of Bettws Early Learning Community (ELC), which is part of Save the Children’s Early Learning Communities programme bringing together local organisations to make sure that children are getting the support they need to thrive, learn and achieve their potential.

‘Unlocking the system: Place-based ways of working with children, their families and a neighbourhood psychologist in Bettws, Wales’  highlights the impact that adverse living conditions including deprivation, lack of opportunity and trauma has on mental health and learning outcomes, particularly during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

Evidence also shows that many children living in poverty are unable to access hospital appointments or support because of the additional emotional, financial or social strain it puts on families.

The article explains in the detail how Bettws ELC is working alongside families to better understand how to support communities and ensure children have the best possible start in life.

Dr Jen Daffin, Community Clinical Psychologist, Platfform, said in the article, “We know we need to focus on the early years because such adverse childhood experiences can have a lasting impact on young lives but if we can reach out to families with tailored support, based on this understanding, we can provide support for a better start in life.”

A key part of building on this approach is the recent launch of the Embrace project which is using storytelling to understand the lived experiences and needs of families in Bettws and find ways of improving community wellbeing and resilience.

It builds on the results of a survey of Bettws parents in 2020 which showed that less than half felt the community’s mental health was good and recent discussions with families who said they found it hard to access support for their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The article details how one of the asks from parents was peer to peer spaces where they could share their stories and experiences.

The Embrace project, which started in June 2022 and is funded by Save the Children Cymru, brings together three groups of eight to 12 families with children under the age of seven to share what’s been tough, what’s been positive and what could be done better to ensure a brighter future.

The groups meet once a month and both the facilitators (Bettws ELC and Platfform) and families record the stories and learning shared.

The aim is to create a social connection and support within the community and take sustainable actions that will improve mental health, wellbeing and resilience in Bettws.

Rebecca Thomas, Bettws ELC Lead, Save the Children Cymru, said, “It’s time to explore what today’s children and families need and how to redesign our approach and services to better help them. We hope this project will contribute to this development.”

‘Unlocking the system: Place-based ways of working with children, their families and a neighbourhood psychologist in Bettws, Wales’ is written by Dr Jen Daffin, Community Clinical Psychologist, Platfform, Rebecca Thomas, Bettws ELC Lead, Save the Children Cymru and Siobhan Parry, Head of Service – Children and Young People, Platfform.

To read the Clinical Psychology Forum article in full please click here and you can find out more about the Embrace project on our website Building resilient children in Bettws: reflections on working in a trauma-informed way – Bettws Early Learning Community (bettwselc.org.uk)

World Mental Health Day is happening on Monday 10 October 2022. The theme for this year, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and they’re asking people to look after ‘Number 1’ when it comes to their mental health.