This summer the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) was awarded a £38 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
LEAP brings together Lambeth Council, the National Children’s Bureau, Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Kings Health Partners as well as local voluntary organisations, community groups, parents, babies and children, the Young Lambeth Co-operative, schools, nurseries and the local police.
The aim of the project is to ensure that all children in the LEAP wards, aged from pregnancy to 4 years old, regardless of their background, have the best start in life.
To do this, LEAP will provide access to support which is proven to improve language and communication, social and emotional development and the nutrition of babies and toddlers.
It is ambitious in its scope, aiming to help improve the lives of more than 10,000 children over the course of the 10 year project.
The project takes a public health approach, based on genuine evidence about what works to improve children’s lives. It also takes an holistic view, recognising that the social, emotional, communication and language development of babies and children is affected not just by the wellbeing of their parents, but by their social networks, and the strength of their communities and the wider environment too.
The projects will be delivered at twenty-six sites across four neighbouring wards in the centre of Lambeth: Coldharbour, Stockwell, Tulse Hill and Vassall; which are home to a fifth of Lambeth’s population and a quarter of our borough’s children under 18 (25% of whom are under four).
These new or improved spaces will allow all those working with families to support them in a more effective and coordinated way; using the same base, sharing information and developing integrated working practices so that health professionals such as health visitors and midwives can work much more closely with parents, the council’s family support workers and social workers.
The programme will also see the launch of Community Champions; over fifty individuals will be recruited in the first year and trained to promote key advice and build connections in the community to reduce the social isolation of some new parents.
There will a range of specific and measurable goals, including improving breastfeeding rates, reducing childhood and maternal obesity, reducing domestic violence, strengthening families, and supporting parents.
A group of researchers from Harvard have already been able to see this best practice in action.
By Lib Peck, Lambeth Borough Council Leader.