This blog is in response to an event I attended on behalf of Bolton CVS. On the 28th February 2019, I attended the Greater Manchester School Readiness summit at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. After a long and confusing walk around the stadium trying to find the right entrance I finally arrived, on time, to the summit alongside some 450 other guests.
The room was full to bursting with professionals from a wide range of prenatal, perinatal, early years, education, health and social care providers. Public, private, community and voluntary sector organisations coming together with one vested interested…A commitment to improving and strengthening the offer for preschool children and families to ensure children are school ready. The message was clear; no longer will your postcode define your future.
It was estimated at the first school readiness summit in September 2017 that around 12,000 children started school without the necessary skills to learn. Economic instability, low wages and time poor families was identified as the largest contributing factors towards delays in child development. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham revealed during the February 2019 Summit that there has been an increase of approximately 200 children starting Year 1 with a ‘good level of development’ compared to the previous year.
I believe we are heading in the right direction. However, in my opinion I still feel there is a long way to go and I think it is imperative that we continue to work together, collaboratively across sectors and within local communities to reduce inequalities for families living in the most deprived areas across Greater Manchester.
I recently attended the Early Help review workshops, a co-designed approach that places Bolton on the map in terms of its commitment to person centred care. Ensuring Bolton’s provision enables improved access for parents and carers to receive the right support at the right time. The workshops engaged a wide range of stakeholders to include professionals from across public, private, voluntary and community sectors, parents, carers and young people themselves. Although the workshops were indeed a positive step, it is important we continue to invest in quality early years’ services. We need commitment to develop safe, exciting, challenging and creative places to play, develop and learn.
Bolton hosts a diverse and strong VCSE sector with over 1,500 community groups and voluntary organisations across the nine neighbourhoods. The VCSE offer support from cradle to grave and play a crucial role in supporting early years and parents within the borough. Bolton CVS strives to support the sector through our group development, training and investment offer open to existing and new groups to help shape a better future for families of Bolton. So, if you’re interested in starting a new community group, or would like to start a new venture alongside an existing group then book an appointment at the Bolton Hub to speak to our development, training and or investment and grants team and be part of improving children’s and young people’s lives in Bolton.