The visit is to inform the Committee’s inquiry into the impact of health inequalities in the early years. The inquiry is looking at how early years interventions can be an effective and positive step in addressing these inequalities and what more could and should be done.
Committee Convener Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“We have heard time and again about the link between health inequalities and poverty but we have also heard about the impact which early intervention can have in improving the lives of our young people.
“Visits such as this are invaluable as we gather evidence in our inquiry. Meeting people, seeing practical actions and their results, mean we can see first-hand the differences early intervention can make.”
Deputy Convener of the Committee Bob Doris MSP said:
“A significant amount of resources is invested in early years and our inquiry is about ensuring that it is making a difference in tackling health inequalities and improving health in our country in the future.
“Our Committee understands the valuable work which is being undertaken across Scotland to do just that which is why we are visiting these projects today.”
During the visit, Committee members will hear of the work undertaken by Barnardo’s Threads Service in Paisley. Barnardo's Threads is a holistic family support service for young parents in Renfrewshire, helping them give their children the best start in life.
Lynne O’Brien, Assistant Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said:
“We’re very pleased that the committee has chosen to visit our early years project in Paisley. We work closely with partners across Children’s Services in Renfrewshire to support a large number of families in the local area, who just need a bit of help to be the parents they want to be. Our role is not to lecture them but give them the advice that every parent is in need of at one time or another, to build a strong, nurturing relationship with their child.”
The Committee will then visit Westerhouse Nursery School and Family Learning Centre in Easterhouse to see a creative oral health and nutrition intervention with parents and children. Health improvement staff will deliver an interactive parent-child workshop which will take the form of a puppet-making workshop and other creative activity.
The Committee will also see an early years collaborative project with health and education at the Bridgeton Family Learning Centre. This involved the use of parent focus groups to identify ways they could help parents during the early years with their children. The outcome was that parents wanted clear information that was readily available to them in their communities.
Anne McGinley, Health Visitor Team Leader, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said:
“We decided to look at the use of lockable notice boards which could be erected in each nursery and local health centre. The noticeboards were purchased and staff worked with the parents and the children to come up with a logo, font sizes, paper colour and the information to go on the boards for example baby massage and cookery classes at the nursery.”
The Health and Sport Committee began its work on health inequalities last year with a “scoping exercise” to set the overall context and a short inquiry into teenage pregnancy (which reported in May 2013).
The scoping exercise convinced the Committee that most of the causes of health inequalities are related to wider societal inequalities that are outside the remit of the Health and Sport Committee so the Committee focussed their Inquiry on health inequalities in the early years.
There are a range of services on offer at Barnardo's Threads for families to get the support they need at the earliest opportunity to provide a healthy, nurturing, stable environment for their children. These include: groups/peer learning, pre and post natal group programmes, individual tailored support to each family and practical and emotional support.