Minister praises ‘heartening’ progress of Bradford District’s Family Hubs in their work to support families

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom, MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, said Bradford District’s Family Hubs and Start for Life programme has made ‘heartening’ progress, at her visit to Farcliffe Family Hub, Bradford, on 2 February.

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom speaking with families at Farcliffe Family Hub

The visit was arranged as an opportunity for Health Minister Leadsom, who oversees public health, Start for Life and primary care nationally, to speak with the Family Hubs and Start for Life workforce, and hear from families about their experiences of the facilities and services available.

Bradford District’s Family Hubs provide free support, advice, and services for families with children up to age 19 (25 with SEND) and at every stage of family life. The government-funded Family Hubs and Start for Life programme is particularly focussed on support for families at the beginning of their child’s life.

This time, from the start of pregnancy to the child’s second birthday, has been identified as one of the most important times for a child’s life-long health, wellbeing and development.

Through government funding, the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme has increased the reach of some of the services that make the most difference to families during this crucial time, so that more parents, carers, parents-to-be and children across the Bradford District can receive valuable support.

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom meets the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme team and partners at her visit to Farcliffe Family Hub, Bradford, on 2 February. From left to right, Dr Sara Ahern, Programme Manager, Better Start Bradford Innovation Hub, Born in Bradford; Rachael Burdin, Project Manager, Family Hubs and Start for Life; Health Minister Andrea Leadsom; Lisa Brett, Head of Service, Prevention and Early Help, Bradford Children and Families Trust.

Laura, a mum from Bradford, spoke to the minister about the help she received from Little Minds Matter, a mental health support service provided by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and included in the Start for Life offer. Laura said:

“It was when my little boy was about 8 weeks old. After the usual baby checks, my health visitor asked how I was doing, and it all came out – I was struggling. The health visitor referred me to Little Minds Matter. It’s been unbelievable how much I’ve learned about how to engage with my baby, and it’s helped me process how I was feeling as a new mum. I also made friends in the group which has really helped take the pressure off, having other people to talk to who are going through similar things.”

Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

“I’ve loved hearing the incredible feedback from parents and carers at the Family Hub. It was heartwarming to see the amazing progress since my last visit in Bradford in 2022. I’ve been really impressed to meet so many dedicated workforce and volunteers. Our Family Hubs and Start for Life investment is already making a difference and the fact that Bradford has been committed to the programme from the beginning really shines through.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said:

“Family Hubs were established in the Bradford District in 2019 to provide much needed support for families and communities. The Start for Life funding has been a lifeline in sustaining these invaluable community spaces. I am delighted to see our district’s partnership and workforce so engaged in supporting families at our welcoming Family Hubs.”

Eileen Milner, Chair of Bradford Children and Families Trust, said:

“Bradford Children and Families Trust is delighted to be working in partnership with children’s services in the council to support the delivery of the Start for Life programme. Family Hubs play a valuable role in promoting best outcomes and acting as a community base from which to offer preventative and early help support to families on a multi-agency partnership basis.”

Professor Mel Pickup, Place Lead for Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership and Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Through the Start for Life funding we have been able to increase our offer of services in parent and carer mental health around the time of birth, infant mental health, and breastfeeding, supporting our Best 1,001 Days aim to improve experiences and outcomes of the pregnancy and birth journey across Bradford District and Craven. The opportunity to co-locate services such as midwife appointments at Family Hubs helps us offer seamless support to families in the heart of communities and facilitates signposting to services and further advice where this is needed.”

Programmes and support funded by Family Hubs and Start for Life are designed to give families the support they need, when they need it, to give children the best start in life possible. The district’s Family Hubs provide a warm welcome and valuable support to local families and the community. The Family Hub timetables include sessions from midwife clinics and sensory room bookings to coffee mornings and chit-chat groups. Families can find out more about Family Hubs and Start for Life on the Bradford District’s FYI (Families and Young Person’s Information) website – visit fyi.bradford.gov.uk. The FYI website has a range of accessibility tools including dyslexia-friendly fonts and can be translated into over 130 languages.