What do we do?
What are we doing in Bettws?
Bettws is one of five demonstration Early Learning Communities around the UK.
- Save the Children was already working with Newport City Council for the previous ten years, delivering a grants programme and parental engagement
- There were strong existing partnerships, especially with local schools, Newport Council and local housing associations, working alongside Welsh Government’s Pathfinder programme to integrate health and social services
- Bettws exemplifies some of the key issues for families in poverty that hold back children’s development
- It is a defined geographical area with a stable community. This means we can measure the impact we are having. All the previous work here meant we had an engaged local community wanting to work together to improve the system
Consultations with Bettws residents and organisations working with children identified some key themes:
- Better support for parents of very young children (0 to three) to help with parenting and to ensure that all children are able to progress confidently into nursery and from there into school
- Creating better places to play and meet in the area – whilst Bettws has lots of green open space, not all of it is accessible or nice to play in
- Challenging the stigma of Bettws as a deprived area and improving social cohesion in the area
Impact of Covid-19 and lockdown
The pandemic and associated lockdowns in 2020 accelerated the collaborative working that the systems change approach prompts and saw local communities and professionals working together to identify and respond to very real needs. These included getting basic resources out to families coping with layoffs, furlough, reduced incomes and home schooling, and the withdrawal of face-to-face advice and support services for parents.
The developing Bettws Early Learning Community partnership group quickly learned to work together to mobilise resources for children and families – demonstrating in a very practical way the benefit of collaboration. This included securing digital devices and connectivity for families struggling with home-schooling.
Why do we have an Early Learning Community in Bettws?
We worked with local organisations and communities in Bettws to compile the issues most affecting children’s development and devised an action plan to make improvements. Based on what we learned we think that the key things that will help children achieve and thrive in Bettws are:
Help with communications and language development – because children with good language and communication skills, early literacy and numeracy do better later on at nursery and school
Help with social and emotional development – helping children and families build their confidence, self-esteem, motivation and agency because these also help children do better in nursery and school
But we also know that we can’t just help children on their own, we also need to work with their parents and families – so the Early Learning Community encourages joint working and special projects for children around play, attachment and bonding, health and wellbeing, and for parents and families around health, wellbeing and stress, social and community cohesion, and community safety.