Bradford has been selected as just one of five regions across the whole of England to be allocated substantial funding to help improve the lives of tens of thousands of children.
As part of the Big Lottery Fund, the city will receive £49million as it takes the lead in a ground-breaking ten-year initiative to see what methods are best for laying the foundations for zero to three-year-olds to improve their future health, social and educational outcomes.
The investment aims to improve the life chances of more than 60,000 babies and children across all the regions, which also include, Lambeth, Southend, Nottingham and Blackpool.
Dharmendra Kanani, Big Lottery Fund England Director, explained more about the project and how important it was for children to get the best start in life.
He said: “Parents want the best for their children and as a society we know that what happens in the first three years of life profoundly affects a child’s future life chances.
“A poor start in life can affect your health, wellbeing, outlook on life and how you form relationships.
“Prevention matters more in the early years as we have a much greater understanding of what can and might improve the life chances of a future generation, that is why this investment is focusing on the three key areas of social and emotional development, nutrition, and language and communication development.”
Bradford Trident will lead the partnership in West Yorkshire’s selected city which will aim to engage with around 20,000 babies and children over the next decade.
According to Bradford Trident the district as a whole has significant deprivation and within the three target wards - Bowling and Barkerend, Bradford Moor and Little Horton - there are high rates of infant mortality, child poverty, poor oral health, high child obesity rates, low numbers of school readiness and high rates of domestic violence and child protection orders.
Research shows that one in five children in the three wards have poor communication skills at the school readiness stage and one in three children have poor social and emotional development when starting school.
Meanwhile, this latest funding will also allow midwives caseloads to be reduced to enable more personalised care, provide more home visits and established links with children’s centres.
A ‘befriender scheme’ will be introduced for all expectant and new mothers affected by or at risk of postnatal depression, while a targeted service working with parents will increase their understanding of infant brain development.
There will also be home-based language development pro-grammes, outdoor play, story-telling, exercise activities and nutrition programmes.
Tens of thousands of vulnerable babies across the country will now get the chance to have a better start in life following the £215 million Big Lottery Fund investment.