Children and young people report

Save the Children launch Building Blocks programme supporting the foundations for early childhood

Across Northern Ireland too many families struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table. Simple items like books and toys, a table to eat from and a bed to sleep on can often be missing.

Peter Bryson, Head of Country for Save the Children explains: “Things like low wages, benefits freeze and rising living costs create currents that can pull people into poverty. This can cause parents and carers to feel overwhelmed, isolated and under pressure. It leads to fewer opportunities to nurture their children in everyday chat, play and learning – essential for any child’s development.

“These children are the ones most likely to miss out: On average, the language skills of three-year-old children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are 17 months behind better-off children. They often start school unable to follow simple instructions and speak in basic sentences. Many never catch up. We can, and should, right this wrong.”

Save the Children knows that a nurturing home environment is essential for a child’s development. That’s why through our Building Blocks programme we are joining forces with families, early years practitioners, health visitors, teachers, family support and childcare experts across the country to empower families, enabling them to provide playful learning experiences that support children’s development.

Bryson continues: “Using our close links with Sure Start partners, we work with families on low incomes to provide guidance and support to help parents and carers sign, play, read and chat more with their children, all of which builds early communication and language skills. Our Building Blocks programme can also provide household items, like cookers and beds, to help alleviate stress around meal and bedtimes to help foster routines.”

In the last seven years, Save the Children UK has helped more than 60,000 children by making their homes better places to learn. With our new Building Blocks programme, we will be helping around 2,400 families in six key areas nationwide in 2019. The programme is running in pilot areas across the UK which includes Belfast, Cardiff, Feltham, Margate and Sheffield. In each of these areas, we will support between 300 to 400 families and monitor progress closely.

If you would like more information about the programme please contact Laura Feeney, Senior Programmes Manager at Save the Children
or call 028 9043 1123.

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