A Fairer Start Background

A Fairer Start: Background

A Fairer Start a fairer start A Fairer Start Background background infoIn recognition that the first few years of a child’s life are crucial to their development and in setting the foundations for positive outcomes across the life course, the A Fairer Start project aims to ensure that every child has the best start in life.

There is a strong evidence base which suggests that investing in early years improves social, emotional, physical development of children and has an impact on educational attainment and their health & wellbeing in the long term.

Through fundamental system change and empowering communities to raise healthy happy and productive children, A Fairer Start builds on the current community and public resource to ensure better life chances of 0-3 year olds focusing on Stockton Town Centre Ward. The project will take a multi-agency community based approach with a view to building on the success of existing services. A Fairer Start is a 3 year pilot currently funded by Stockton Borough Council Public Health and NHS Hartlepool & Stockton-on-Tees CCG.

Our aspiration

The Fairer Start project focuses on improving three key outcomes for 0-3 year olds living in the Stockton Town Centre ward:

  1. Cognitive development
  2. Speech and language development
  3. Nutrition

The overarching outcome is for all children to be ‘School Ready’ by the age of five.


  • Service Redesign
  • Shifting resources
  • Voluntary Sector-led

WAVE Trust recommendations

The project will be shaped around the 10 recommendations set out by the WAVE Trust:

  1. Increase breastfeeding and good antenatal nutrition
  2. Promote language development
  3. Reduce domestic violence; and stress in pregnancy
  4. Achieve a major reduction in abuse and neglect
  5. Set up an effective and comprehensive perinatal mental health service
  6. Assess and identify where help is needed
  7. Focus on improving attunement
  8. Promote secure attachment
  9. Ensure good, health-led multi-agency work
  10. Ensure early years workforce has requisite skills

Project Approach

The management of the Fairer Start project will be led by Catalyst Stockton with additional senior support from Public Health to help shape services and build on current relationships and multi-agency working. Catalyst chair a project board – members are:

Chief Executive of Catalyst;

Catalyst Project Officer;

Director of Public Health;

Corporate Director of Children, Education and Social Care;

Head of Education, Early Years and Complex Needs;

Stockton GP Lead for Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees CCG;

Consultant in Public Health.

A Fairer Start will be developed to:

  1. Systematically identify and target children, families and communities
  2. Holistically assess individual needs
  3. Provide tailored packages of support;
  4. Develop local community champions and raise awareness within communities
  5. Develop systems and processes to provide a central point of contact, coordination, referral routes and follow-up, tracking and monitoring

Pilot Area: Stockton Town Centre Ward

A Fairer Start will further develop and enhance links to existing programmes and services helping to ensure that children and their families receive well-coordinated, holistic support to achieve improved outcomes. The active involvement of the local communities has been identified as crucial in both the design and implementation of the project.

Stockton Town Centre not only has a diverse population with high levels of BME and transient communities, it also has very distinct geographic communities that have their own identity and cultural needs. Based on these demographics and the volume of children in receipt of social care services it was agreed that Stockton Town Centre ward would be the target population for the first year of the pilot.

  • Most deprived ward (IMD rank 17)
  • Approximate population 6.5k
  • 5% BME
  • 3% Cannot speak English well or at all
  • 6% Live in Child Poverty
  • Has the highest fertility ratio of any ward (139.2 per 1,000, 2006-10 data)
  • 954 babies born each year in Stockton Town Centre ward
  • Number of babies presenting to midwife at 12 week scan
  • School readiness: EYFS data shows in some wards only halfof children are ready for school

Community Development & Champions

An intrinsic part of the success of this project will be the active participation of the community in the direction and development of a Fairer Start.

The community will have key roles in shaping this project, they will help inform the development of a model of community champions and set the direction of interventions and services commissioned.

Community Champions will have an important role within their communities to help raise awareness of early years, target and engage with families and support the development of the Fairer Start project. The community champions will:

  • Engage with those termed hard to reach
  • Address myths and cultures which may have an impact on child development
  • Build capacity within communities to share informed health advice and create supportive networks within communities
  • Help identify target populations
  • Support the design of the project in particular the Community Champions Model

A model for the development of Community Champions is currently under development.

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