Why a local pledge matters?
Earlier this week I had the privledge to witness a significant event in the Council Chamber of Northampton which had been in planning for the past year - the birth of a local 1001 Critical Days charter to ensure that every babies birth in the county and preparation for it as a community is given its rightful focus and priority - investment in the emotional and physical wellbeing of infants, toddlers and their families beginning in the antenatal period.
Why is this so important that a locality pledges its support? With national focus growing on investment into the first 1001 days of a childs life to improve life chances for children and which has such a strong economic argument for doing so (the local health economy needs it) - the devolved responsibility for local communities to take stock of its nurturative assets and investment into available windows of opportunity for growth and potential is essential.
No other window of opportunity for potential is available like the first 1001 days of a child's life from conception to age 2 where we know around 80% of a humans brain development occurs in this period of development. This period which will contribute significantly to educational attainment, workforce employability, family relationships and community life - a preventative strategy is a compassionate cure!
We know this begins with earliest relationships to grow the social brain and health outcomes for better wellbeing and future healthy relationships. When a community supports family potential through social cohesion that isn't just reliant on professionals but also fellow citizens, a village around the family is created to nurture and grow its potential which grows community potential with significant rewards to be reaped. Building strong bonds in babies earliest relationships is the key to unlocking life long wellbeing- a strong attachment matters for children building strong and happy relationships.
In the council chamber Andrea Leadsom MP for South Northamptonshire and founder of the 1001 Critical Days spoke passionatley about the significant benefits this local charter would have for Northamptonshire. Sir Al Aynsley Green - President of the British Medical Association and first Children's Commissioner for England brought focus of best practise from other countries who had better health and wellbeing outcomes for their children and at the same time brought a challenge to Northamptonshire about taking responsibility for its children to ensure happy healthy adults and future families in local communities.
It was a celebration of great work already achieved but brought a sharp focus to the action required to realise the 1001 Critical Days vision and the committment being pledged by the local community.
- 20% of Northamptonshire mothers experience mental health problems (in 2012 there were 9,822 live births)
- In 2012/13 children in Northampstonshire were admitted with mental health problems at a higher rate to that of England as a whole.
Our local partner organisation NORPIP is one of the organisations leading the way in building babies minds by supporting babies and their families who have challengng circumstances that are getting in the way of building a strong bond and relationship. They offer specialist parent infant relationship support that enables a transformative process of change between the baby and their family, strengthening life chances which contribute to better speech and language outcomes as toddlers, school readiness and relationship building with other children. It also is a preventative approach to later mental health difficulties in childhood, adolescence and later life.
Northamptonshire has an oportunity to lead the way for the rest of Britain - to Build Great Britons and make Northamptonshire one of the greatest places for children and their families to live in the UK.
It matters for a locality to make a pledge in this way because it says children matter in our local communities, that they should be seen and very much heard from the antenatal period and every step after!