Celebrating Best Start for Babies

On 8th March more than 140 Mums-to-be, parents, carers and their babies came together for fun, food and a chance to find out what is available for them in south Leeds.

Cllr Paul Truswell (R) and Pat McGeever, Vikrant Bhatia and Rachel Vernelle from Health for All, launching the report

At Belle Isle Family Centre, Health for All provide the chance to try out baby first aid, baby massage, Bumps & Babes exercise classes and talk to Children’s Centres, health visitors, breastfeeding supporters and library services. Fathers from Health for All’s Young Dads project were on hand with practical help and there was a chance to find out how to make healthy food fun for families.

A full report containing lots of information on local services for parents-to-be and their babies was launched at the event.  The South Leeds Best Start Zone report shows how services in south Leeds for mums-to-be, carers and their families have worked together to offer babies the best start in life, all co-ordinated by Health for All,. The report shows what can be achieved when services work together, providing extra resources and responding to the needs of local parents.

Paul Truswell, Councillor for Middleton and Belle Isle and Inner South Health Champion, said supporting young children and their mums, dads and carers, was a key way of reducing health inequalities in our area.

“As a dad, I know being a parent is the most important role any of us perform, but it’s one that few of us are trained to do. Best Start has coordinated a range of organisations providing help that’s readily available to parents in the community. It’s an investment that benefits children, their families and the wider community in the long run.”

Pat McGeever, Chief Executive Officer of Health for All, said the Health for All Best Start Zone project has resulted in better communication, increased understanding and trust and some super joint initiatives in the area.

“What a fantastic event to mark the end of a really important project!  Health for All was really delighted to be funded by the Leeds South and East CCG to bring together partners who help parents give their babies the Best Start in life.  Our own work delivering family support in south Leeds over the past twenty years has consistently been enhanced by our partnership work with Children’s Centres, midwives, health visitors and dedicated council services. Thanks to all involved – we’re looking forward to organising further exciting events so watch this space!”

Health for All has joined with partners to deliver much-needed services to families, like a children’s Super Heroes event organised by Libraries and the Health for All Young Dads project.  At Belle Ilse Family Centre there have also been themed Character Breakfast events organised jointly by local family support services and Change 4 Life and promoting local spaces to become child and breast-feeding friendly. The Best Start Zone project has led to the development of new baby massage groups in Belle Isle and Middleton Family Centres and engagement of young families from marginalised groups such as Chinese and Eastern Europeans.

South Leeds Best Start Zone was a response to Leeds Best Start Plan 2015-19 which has the overall aim that every baby in Leeds will get the best start in life.


This post was written by Rachel Vernelle using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.