Picnic in the Park

This year’s popular family event Picnic in the Park, will be held in Wardown Park, Old Bedford Road on Wednesday 26th June from 10am until 2pm.

Picnic in the Park is Luton’s largest pre-school event attracting more than 3,000 people.  This free event is co-hosted by Luton Council’s Flying Start Team and the Early Years Alliance (formally the Pre-school Learning Alliance), and is a fabulous opportunity for parents and young children to have fun, take part in activities and learn more about the services in Luton.

This year’s theme is ‘think active, be active,’ and this topic will provide the framework for the activities on offer and key messages to give to families.

Luton’s Mayor, alongside our new Chief Executive Robin Porter will officially open the event at 10.15 and 10.30 and welcome families to take part in the fun.

As usual there will be early years’ providers and local organisations, emergency services, and health organisations in attendance, offering a range of essential information to parents and carers on subjects including healthy living, home, road and fire safety as well details of childcare and family support services available in the town.”  

Please publicise this event to families with under-fives or bring a picnic and join in the fun! #LutonPITP2019

Flying Start Henry workshops

Henry workshops are free 1.5 hour one off sessions that give parents the tools and skills they need to help provide their family with a healthy lifestyle. There are three workshops available on:

·         Fussy Eating – Strategies to reduce fussy eating and encourage acceptance of a wider variety of foods

·         Active Fun – ideas on free activities to keep their children active and encourage them away from screens

·         Eat Well 4 Less- Tips and ideas for healthy eating on a budget

The workshops support families to share their experiences and talk about what challenges they have, then as a group we work through them and come up with ideas to try at home. HENRY adopts a unique and holistic approach to working with families underpinned by the evidence on risk and protective factors for early nutrition, child obesity and child development. It is an approach that is about behaviour change and supporting families to make their own choices about what they want to change and how they are going to do it. Workshops will be running throughout the summer across Luton. For information on dates and venues visit: https://www.flyingstartluton.com/parent/parenting-programmes/henry/

Luton Teenage Pregnancy Pathway 2019

Luton has continued to see a reduction in the number and rate of teenage pregnancy, since 1998. The latest figures show that 63 young women conceived in 2017, giving a rate of 16.3, similar to national figures.

Teenage pregnancy carries increased risks for both mother and baby and is often associated with other vulnerabilities. Some teenage parents were supported by the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme; however, there was a high demand for support from a number of teenagers that didn’t meet the FNP criteria. Following the cessation of the FNP programme in March 2018, it was important for Luton to develop a robust system that safeguards this vulnerable group of women and promotes every opportunity for them to have access to the appropriate health and social support required throughout their pregnancy and postnatally, to achieve positive outcomes for both mother and child.

A multiagency group of local professionals have worked together over the past year to establish a new pathway for pregnant teenagers in Luton. The pathway has been developed to ensure that Luton young parents are identified in the universal health care system at the time of booking, which ensures they can be contacted at a much earlier stage in their pregnancy by school nurses or health visitor, as appropriate. A key change is that all pregnant teenagers will have their case reviewed by a small group of health care professionals, including maternity service and lead health professional in the 0-19 service. This will identify if further support is required, and who will make that offer to the pregnant teenager.

There has also been an addition of a teenage pregnancy club, led by the local maternity services which offers information, advice and support on the key public health and antenatal services in one place that can impact on their health and the health of their unborn child.

The Luton Teenage pregnancy pathway is now complete and is in use.

If you have any enquiries about the pathway, please contact Patsy Richards – Patsy.Richards@Luton.gov.uk or for more information on the teenage pregnancy club contact Jayne Pigott Jayne.Pigott2@ldh.nhs.uk

National Smile Month

Young children in Luton have the highest levels of tooth decay across the East of England; sadly, this trend has continued for many years yet it’s everyone’s responsibility to help reduce this health inequality. The recently formed Oral Health Alliance Group (OHAG) lead by Public Health, Luton Borough Council, would like to encourage a huge effort from all partners to promote this year’s campaign and raise awareness of the positive effect of a healthy smile.

As key workers in Luton, we would like to know what and how your service, will be doing to promote the THREE key messages to help people achieve good physical and mental wellbeing by improving oral health:

• Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a family, fluoride toothpaste.

• Cut down on how much sugary food and drinks you have between meals

• Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend


Organise a Two minute toothbrushing challenge.  

Put oral health on to the classroom agenda; partner up with a local dental practice.  

Promote a Smileathon – snap yourself, friends and colleagues using a Smiley.

Create a display with key preventative messages

Co-ordinate a new tooth brush swap

There are so many more things you may like to do…let us know! The important thing is to get involved and put a smile on people’s faces.

Visit: www.dentalhealth.org for great tips and ideas. OHAG will collate your activities so remember to give us names, photos etc so that we can highlight your work.

contact Flyingstart@luton.gov.uk

Bedfordshire and Luton Perinatal Mental Health Service

It has been exciting to be part of developing a new service in Beds and Luton to support women who need specialist help and support with their mental health during the perinatal period.  We can now start to shape services for local parents, and improve the outcomes for women who experience perinatal mental health difficulties.

There have been a lot of papers and guidance published about the importance of perinatal mental health, but despite this, women in Bedfordshire and Luton did not have access to a specialist perinatal mental health team. It has been well publicised that the cost of not having access to a specialist service is £8.1 billion per year, with 2/3 of this cost linked to the child. In simple terms, it is far cheaper to provide a service than not to, as well as benefitting the families in our area.

Back in early 2018 a successful bid was put in to NHS England to expand the Perinatal Mental Health service provision in Milton Keynes, and set up a new service in Beds and Luton. I was lucky enough to come into post in October 2018, which has been both challenging and rewarding. I am delighted to say that from 1st April 2019 there is now a full team in place, and we are working alongside existing services to add specialist mental health support to women who are pregnant or have a child under 12 months old.

We have a specific remit as in the 5 year forward view to:

  • Support women with new and existing mental illness during a vulnerable and risky time
  • Manage and observe lower risk thresholds and changing complexities
  • Have a specialist knowledge of the impact of maternal mental health
  • Educate and train other professionals
  • Assess attachment and bonding
  • Give preconception advice to women on psychotropic medication
  • Plan for mental health care during pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.
  • Arrange admission to MBU
  • Follow up women discharged from an MBU
  • Offer psychological therapies
  • Offer practical advice on how to care for a baby to women under the care of the service.

Although there are varying statistics about how many women are affected by perinatal mental health, we know from the stories of those who have had mental health needs during this time, the impact of not having the right help and support can be devastating. Prenatal stress and anxiety release cortisol, which can contribute to low birth weight, premature birth, and sleep difficulties in babies.  

We will help women who are at increased risk of developing mental illness, either because they have a previous history of perinatal mental illness, or have a female relative (mum, sister etc.) who has experienced postpartum psychosis or has bipolar disorder. The team will provide advice on mental health medication both during and after pregnancy, as well as monitoring for changes in mental health throughout their involvement.

Women who are already open to community mental health teams, or have a diagnosed mental health need (e.g. Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Severe depression) should always be referred to the Perinatal Mental Health Service, even if they currently are feeling well. This is to enable us to work preventatively.

If there was a key message to get out to parents and health professionals, it would be that mental health medication should not be stopped during pregnancy or postnatally, without first discussing with a specialist service. Reducing or stopping medication could trigger a relapse, so we want to work with mums to plan what they would like to happen in advance. In all cases we would ask that a referral is made to the Perinatal Mental Health Team, in order to have medication advice from our consultant psychiatrist.

Preconception advice will also be available for women who are on medication for their mental health, and are planning or considering having a baby. This will help to ensure that there is a plan in place which will help maintain the mental health of the mother, without impacting on the health and development of her child. Once this advice has been given, the woman will be discharged back to her usual care provider, but should be referred back to the perinatal team when she becomes pregnant.

We hope that by working across the wider pathway we can help to reduce the stigma of perinatal mental health, as we are consistently told by parents  that they worry that their child will be taken away if they tell people that they have a mental health need. By working with the Perinatal Champions we can raise awareness of the thoughts and fears of women, and why it is difficult to tell health professionals when things are difficult.

Please contact us if you would like any more information about the service and what we offer. Our contact details and referral form, as well as frequently asked questions are available on the website: https://www.elft.nhs.uk/service/441/Perinatal-Mental-Health-Team-Bedfordshire–Luton

Talking Takes Off – Luton Early Outcome Fund

Supporting early language development and speech, communication and language needs

Luton Council has successfully secured funding of £452,000 from the Department for Education (DfE) for its Early Outcome Fund (EOF) programme to support speech, communication and language development in babies and young children from the antenatal period through to when they start school. The money will be used to develop a year long programme to provide clear support and guidance to all families to give their children the very best start in life.

The programme will be delivered as part of Luton’s Flying Start strategy which provides prevention and early help services from pregnancy to five in the town. An Early Outcome Fund team has been created to support parents, volunteers and professionals to strengthen early language development in the home, in early year’s settings and in the community. Throughout the year the Early Outcome Fund team will work with a range of partners including maternity and paediatric services, health visiting teams, speech and language services, children’s centres, primary care settings, dentists, early years providers, schools and libraries. They will ensure all staff are offered appropriate training supporting early communication and language development so they can use this as part of their work with babies and children and also share skills with parents.

A new early year’s speech, communication and language pathway will be developed together with a new screening tool to help earlier identification of children who may need more specialised support and resources will be developed and made available so that all children can be given help according to their needs.

We will be recruiting volunteers to raise awareness about early language development to different community groups across the town. Parents will also be invited to get involved in the project to help find out what works best for families and to ensure parental views are loud and clear as the new service models are designed.

For more information please contact Stephanie Cash Early Outcome Fund Programme Lead

Stephanie.cash@luton.gov.uk 01582 547980

NHS 111 by phone and now online:

    Contact Telephone: 111                      Online: www.111.nhs.uk

The Luton wide health care system is prompting the use of NHS 111 for when the public are seeking urgent medical help. The service is accessible by telephone and now also online and ensures that people are seen in the right place at the right time by the most appropriate healthcare professional appropriate to their healthcare needs.

Evidence shows that many parents turn to the emergency department when their children are unwell, especially in the evening and weekends. Our emergency department at the Luton & Dunstable hospital regularly see people who are not deemed to be a medical emergency. By promoting the use of NHS 111 and being able to inform the population of alternative services that are available to them in the community, we can all help ease the pressure on our busy local emergency department.

Postcards have been printed to support the promotion of NHS 111 and if you would like a supply of these for your care setting please contact Donna Holding – Donna.Holding@nhs.net from Luton CCG who will be able to arrange delivery.

Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre update

It is now over two years since children’s centres in Luton moved to be part of Luton Council under the Flying Start umbrella. During these two years there has been a period of settling in and readjustment followed by a period of sorting out processes/procedures and finally moving to a period when our children’s centre teams are well embedded and performing well (a perfect example of Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing model).

There are currently 17,087 children under-fives registered with Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre. Between October and December 2018 92% of pregnant women in Luton accessed an ante-natal service delivered in our children’s centres and 68% of all new babies born in Luton were brought along by their parents to attend a service delivered at one of the children’s centres.

On a weekly basis parents can access a range of both universal services (open to all) and targeted services (for which criteria apply). Timetables with details of all the services offered by Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre (FSCC) can be found on our website: https://www.flyingstartluton.com/childrenscentres/

In addition our Flying Start Family Workers provide support for families who need extra help to tackle any emerging needs. During the past six months we have been focusing on key areas of development for Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre in particular developing the offer for families of children with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) and moving to a Whole Family model of working. Each Flying Start Children’s Centre neighbourhood team has an SEND champion. These champions have a role to support families who have a child with SEND and work closely with the Luton Council Special Educational Needs Service and the Edwin Lobo Centre.

Flying Start Central run two groups for families with children with SEND: the Opportunity Group which is a supported play session providing opportunities for children and parents to explore familiar and new opportunities alongside staff, and the Little Explorers Group which encourages children to explore and understand their environment themselves and with others through sensory experiences (hearing, taste, touch, smell and vision).

The primary focus for children’s centres is on families with children under the age of five, but often families have older children and other adults living in the family home. Adopting a whole family approach means that our Flying Start Children’s Centre Family Workers can help families to address their underlying problems as a whole, taking into account the issues faced by all members of the family. Whole family working means working with the  family in a way which recognises that they interact and influence each other, rather than viewing them as individuals with a problem. FSCC Family Workers work in partnerships with families recognising and promoting resilience and helping them to build their capabilities.

And finally…. we are very keen to find out what Luton parents think about the services they access at our Flying Start Children’s Centre. To listen to as many views as possible, we will be running an on-line survey from 18th February to 18th March 2019 to find out how satisfied parents/carers are with services we provide. Look out for the on-line survey on the Consultations page of the Luton Borough Council website.  We want to get as many children’s centre users as possible to complete the survey and provide us with feedback which will help us to understand what services parents and children value, and enable us to make adjustments to services where needed.

Starting Well: A Smile4Life Initiative

Last year NHS England launched Starting Well: A Smile4Life Initiative. This programme of dental practice-based initiatives aims to improve oral health in children under the age of five years. Luton was chosen as one of 13 high priority areas to be part of the national Starting Well initiative, due to the high levels of dental decay experienced in Luton children. 37.6% of 5 year olds in Luton have dental decay (which is significantly higher than the national average).

Tooth decay causes pain and discomfort and can have a significant impact on health and well-being. Tooth decay is preventable and dental practises are working with families to raise awareness of the importance of looking after baby teeth and overcoming barriers to visiting a dentist, which is recommended by one year of age.

The aim of the programme is to increase the focus of practises on preventative work, strengthening relationships with the local communities and taking preventative oral health work to community based settings. Seven dental practises in Luton are part of the scheme and have been working with Early Years settings in areas with the highest levels of dental decay which includes Biscot, Challney, Dallow, Farley and Saints.

Dental practises offer a range of oral health activities and resources for children and families and can visit settings or arrange class trips to visit the dental practises. If you work in a setting within one of the 5 wards listed and are interested in support from dental practises please contact Louise.morrissey@eyalliance.org.uk

For a list of dental practises to refer families to visit https://www.flyingstartluton.com/parent/additional-services/oral-health/

Introducing the new Flying Start Graduate, Amaani Ahmed

My name is Amaani Ahmed and I am the new NGDP graduate at Luton Council. This is my first full-time job having graduated from the University of Birmingham in summer 2018 with a BA in International Relations.

Luton feels very much like home as I was born here and lived in the town until the age of 11. Since then I have been living in Harpenden where I studied Politics, Biology and Psychology at Sixth Form.

When I left school I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do for a career. I chose to study international politics because this was my main interest and I wanted to understand more about current events around the world.

I have always been passionate about helping people and my studies were important to opening my eyes to the ways in which this can be achieved from an international to a local scale.

This is what led to me choosing Flying Start out of a possible 9 placements at Luton Council. I felt it was a great opportunity for me to benefit the community I once lived in, on a really tangible basis.

I was brought into the team as they are working on extending their parenting offer to include parents of 5-19 year olds, helping to provide a more comprehensive approach which continues beyond early years support. My main role over the next six months will be to lead on developing a plan for this project and the beginnings of its implementation before moving onto my next placement. Work will include meeting with many key stakeholders such as Early Help and professionals from health such as School nurses. Meetings will allow me to have a broad view of what issues face this age range, the gaps in the current services and finally the potential to address these issues and gaps with the proposed parenting offer.

At the beginning of my placement I felt like I was getting an information overload. This was simply because I had to absorb a huge range of information, from what the team actually do, to all the new terms and abbreviations being thrown around in meetings. All this on top of simply getting to grips with my role! Adjusting to working life was a challenge but I have definitely relished it and I am now feeling much more settled in my role, largely due to the support I have received from my colleagues and managers. While I am learning so much every day, I am also enjoying myself through the process and again this is due to everyone in the Flying Start team.