The fourth A Better Start Learning and Development event was held in Blackpool on 1st and 2nd March 2017, putting a focus on the role of communities. The event was co-hosted by Blackpool Better Start, and included all the A Better Start sites as well as parent representatives.
Experts and leading researchers delivered presentations on their latest research and current thinking in the field, as well as giving inspiration and information on approaches for practice. Delegates were invited to visit their choice of two local Blackpool Better Start projects as part of the event. In addition, there were two 'world cafe'-style Community Cafe sessions for local areas to share their work and learning, a facilitated breakout session for parent representatives to share their experiences, and interactive group discussion and learning sessions through the use of 'Stormz' technology. The guide providing an overview of the event has been made available here.
Merle Davies, Director of the Centre for Early Child Development and lead for the Blackpool Better Start initiative, welcomed delegates to the city and the event. Then Neil Jack, Chief Executive of Blackpool Council, spoke of his vision for Blackpool and the importance of community. After delegates were then treated to a 'people bingo' icebreaker delivered by Sharon Mather of Community Voice, the Big Lottery Fund's Chris Cuthbert set out the aims of the event and introduced an inspirational video message from Dr Joan Lombardi, Senior Fellow of the Centre for American Progress Action Fund.
Over the course of the next two days, presentations were given by:
- Professor Jacqueline Barnes, who set out Why communities matter to Early Childhood Development.
- Trevor Hopkins, who spoke of taking an 'asset-based' approach to communities.
- Vidhya Alakeson, who talked about Transforming outcomes through co-production.
- Professor Paul Ramchandani, who delivered a presentation on The Forgotten Father.
- Dr Crispin Day discussed the benefits of Empowering parents, empowering communities.
- Helen Martin gave a presentation on Sharing power.
The following three resources complement the presentation given by Trevor Hopkins:
- Building stronger communities in East Sussex report
- Glasgow Centre for Population Health: Resilience for public health briefing paper
- Glasgow Centre for Population Health: Positive conversations, meaningful change: learning from Animating Assets programme report
Bringing together the research and materials presented at the event, we have compiled a comprehensive list of resources, publications and research on the role of communities. Each of the presentations was also filmed and will be available to view in full in the future.