Helping children to a healthy future

Thu 23 June, 2016
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University of Bedfordshire Vice Chancellor Bill Rammell welcomed an audience of national and local representatives to the Flying Start Conference 2016 in Luton.

Flying Start, which was set up last year, aims to improve outcomes for children from pregnancy to their fifth birthday as a foundation to a healthy future.

As a member of the Flying Start Partnership, the Vice Chancellor said: “We are delighted to be working with the range of Flying Start stakeholders to ensure that we collectively ensure maximum benefit for local residents.

“The University’s Institute for Health Research has a long-established international track record for carrying out research that informs policy and practices in relation to health inequalities.”

Flying Start was set up as a Partnership between the Pre-School Learning Alliance, together with Luton Borough Council and its partners, communities and parents.

It aims to ensure that all young children in Luton have a Flying Start; but particularly for those babies and children who are born in areas of the town with the highest levels of disadvantage and poorer outcomes.

Professor Gurch Randhawa, Director of the University’s Institute for Health Research, said: “The University has been able to invest in a range of areas to support the inception of the Flying Start programme in Luton.”

These include:

  • Research to explore parents’ views and practices in relation to feeding their children a healthy diet
  • Research to explore community perceptions of cousin marriage
  • Research to explore and explain maternal factors that contribute to still birth and neonatal mortality in babies born to Pakistani, Bangladeshi and white British women living in Luton

“These investments will enable us to establish a ‘Luton’ evidence-base as to what works locally and why. This will be essential as we seek to roll out good practice from the Flying Start programme,” added Professor Randhawa.

Other keynote speakers at the conference held at Putteridge Bury conference centre included Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance; Honor Rhodes OBE, Director of Strategic Development Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and Trustee, Early Intervention Foundation; and Kathy Jones, Chief Executive, Fatherhood Institute.

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