Flying Start Update

Flying Start May 2021

You will be aware of the sad news that Flying Start Children Centres closed their doors for the last time on the 31st March 2021, due to a loss of income from the airport because of Covid-19. 

The good news is that Flying Start has not gone away.  Flying Start is the overarching umbrella for the antenatal to five year period in Luton, and delivered through a partnership approach.  The Early Years Alliance holds the reins for the co-ordination and delivery of a range of universal services for families with under-fives in Luton, working collaboratively with our key partner agencies and working alongside the community itself.

Together our aim is to help reduce inequalities that exist for some communities and to help parents support their children to have the best start in life.

What’s available for parents?

  • A range of parenting programmes, under five communication and language sessions and workshops on a variety of topics are being offered and a timetable is available on the Flying Start Website.  The guidance sheet below provides information on the services and who they are suitable for. Details of times and dates is available on the website
  • Solihull online Parenting Offer

Flying Start Luton and CCS have invested in a multi-user license for award winning, quality marked, evidence based online courses by the Solihull Approach (a national NHS organisation).  This is a Free resource for all parents/ carers/ grandparents/ professionals working with under-fives and living in Luton.  Visit 

Access Code: HATTERS and a Luton postcode

  • Understanding your pregnancy, birth, labour and baby (antenatal)
  • Understanding your baby (postnatal up to 9 months old)
  • Understanding your child (up to 18 years)
  • Understanding your teenager’s brain (11-18 years)
  • Understanding your child with additional needs
  • The Flying Start website will be undergoing a transformation and have easily accessible information for families by the age/stage of the child.  It will link into evidence and science based information and guide users to other websites where they can access the information they are seeking. This will include health information offered by Cambridge Community Services and NHS websites.  It will include easy links to The Luton Directory and the Luton Local Family Offer.

Additional support and services are available through the Starting Well Programme for pregnant parents and families in the antenatal to 2 year period if they reside in the following wards: Dallow, South, Farley or Northwell.  Please contact us for further details.

Email  or call 01582 548356

What’s available for professionals?

We continue to offer a range of multi-agency training offered virtually or face to face (when Government restrictions allow)

How to get involved with Flying Start?

We offer two Flying Start Volunteer roles:

  • Parent Champions
  • Parent Buddies – enhanced position

Further details will be released shortly on the website.

We are keen to work with community groups offering universal services to support with key messages for parents in ‘giving children a flying start in life’

The following information provides an overview of all of the Flying Start activities and some of the partner activities we are co-supporting

Flying Start Universal Offer 2021

Flying Start will continue to offer a programme for all families in Luton with under 5s. At present, these groups are all virtual via the ZOOM platform but we hope to develop face to face sessions later in the year.  Please encourage parents to visit and email  or call 01582 548356 to book.

Antenatal and Postnatal Services

Luton Bumps on Zoom – women only

This runs on Zoom for an hour every other week providing a great opportunity for women to talk with each other about life in/post lockdown whilst pregnant. They can share experiences, support each other and ask questions whilst getting some advice from our staff and guest speakers, including a midwife. Women are encouraged to view the antenatal education videos provided online in advance of attending and can also join a WhatsApp group to stay in contact during and after pregnancy.

Suitable for: Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancyliving in Luton

Keeping Baby Safe Workshop on Zoom

Safe at Home offer child safety advice and support to expectant and new parents in a virtual small 2 hour group session, including a free child safety gift bag. Our safety advisor offers top tips on how to make informed and safer choices when buying nursery equipment and parents can learn important techniques on protecting their new-born in the early months of life. Parents will have opportunity to ask questions about nursery products that they are considering buying or maybe already using. The session also covers the Tubes of Life programme and its importance for parents and their baby.

Suitable for: Pregnant women and partners at any pregnancy stage and new parents in Luton

Baby and Me on Zoom

This postnatal group follows on from Luton Bumps on Zoom. New Mums and Dads can return to this social group with baby up until 6 months and get the chance to meet other local parents and bond with baby whilst learning and having fun. This group is held for an hour every other week and supports with all aspects of being a parent.

Suitable for: New parents with babies up to 6 months

Starting Solids Workshop on Zoom

This 1.5 hour session provides information on when, what and how to introduce solid foods.

Suitable for: New parents with babies 3 to 6 months who have not yet started solids

Baby Talk: Songs, Signs and Rhymes on Zoom

This 30 minute zoom group offers parents with babies the opportunity to socialise and learn through play- using songs, signs and rhymes.

Suitable for: Parents with babies under 12 months living in Luton

Other Under 5 Services for Luton families run by Flying Start

Parent Workshops on Zoom

These workshops will be in café style- giving a great opportunity for parents to talk with others, share experiences, and support each other whilst getting some non-medical advice.

  • Sleep and Bedtime Routines Suitable for: Parents of babies aged 1 and under  
  • Toilet Training Suitable for: Parents of 1 to 3 year olds (before or during toilet training)
  • Terrific Twos Suitable for: Parents of 2 year olds (behaviour, routines, learning)

Talking Takes Off for Communication on Zoom

This is a programme of fun workshops aimed at improving communication skills for parents and children. This group is for emerging communication and language needs with a focus on 2 year olds but whilst virtual, we can accept 1 to 3 years.

Suitable for: Parents of 1 to 3 year olds living in Luton

Parenting Puzzle Programme

This four week programme supports parents of babies and young children with a focus on the importance of attachment, empathy, positive discipline, play and communication.

Suitable for: Parents of under 5s living in Luton

HENRY Healthy Lifestyles Programme

This 8 week programme supports parents in ensuring a healthy start for their child. Children can make mealtimes feel stressful and providing healthy lifestyles for them can be challenging. Henry helps to overcome those challenges so you can have a happy and healthy family life.

Suitable for: Parents of under 5s living in Luton

Safe at Home          

Safe at Home Luton is a child accident prevention programme aimed at families from pregnancy through to the child’s 5th birthday. They offer FREE advice and support to all families, and parents on low income and receiving benefits may qualify for home safety equipment (dependant on a home assessment).

Suitable for: Parents of under 5s living in Luton

Talking Takes Off Drop-In Calls

Our speech and language therapist is offering appointments to talk to parents about their child’s talking and listening skills over the phone if they have concerns. The service is suitable for children who are not already known to the Speech and Language Therapy Service.

Suitable for: Parents of under 5s living in Luton with early concerns about their child’s talking.

Solihull Online Learning

Five free e-courses covering from pregnancy up to the teenager years. These e-courses are relevant to all parents/carers of all children including those with special needs. Visit: Access Code: HATTERS

Other Under 5s Services for Luton families running in partnership

Check into Chat (Luton Adult Learning)

This is a free, short course (3 weeks), delivered on Zoom, to help families to develop speech, language and communication in children under 3.

  • Find out how young children learn to communicate and develop language skills through everyday activities and routines
  • Gather ideas to help your child’s communication skills at home
  • Develop the way you communicate with your child

To book: please call 07477807017 (Monday to Thursday 8am to 4pm) or 01582 490033

Healthy Start Vitamins (Active Luton)

All pregnant and breastfeeding women and children from birth until 5 years old need vitamin supplements (for children who are having 500ml or more of formula a day these vitamins are not needed). Healthy Start vitamins are suitable for vegetarians and halal diets, and free from milk, egg, gluten, soya and peanut residues.

Vitamins can now be purchased/collected from Active Luton sites:

Hightown Community Sports & Arts Centre (Concorde Street, Luton, LU2 0JD)

Contactless payments or Healthy Start vouchers only

  • Monday             11am to 4pm
  • Wednesday       11am to 4pm

Lea Manor Recreation Centre (Northwell Drive, Luton, LU3 3TL)

  • Monday to Friday        11am to 4pm
  • Saturday                      10am to 1pm

Lewsey Sport Park (Pastures Way, Luton, LU4 0PF)

  • Monday to Friday        11am to 4pm
  • Saturday                      10am to 1pm

Totally Wellbeing Healthy Pregnancy Programme (Total Wellbeing Luton)

Pregnancy Nutrition Support: Total Wellbeing can offer 1-2-1 support virtually or via telephone on eating well for a healthy pregnancy

Health Walks: Health Walks for pregnant and post-natal women (and partners) once a week. A chance to walk and talk all things pregnancy and beyond. These are led by the Total Wellbeing Health Walk Leader and Nutritionist.

Exercise Classes: Active Luton offer pregnancy-specific exercise classes with an antenatal trained instructor. *These Sessions are £3 but there are also free online classes to support home exercise during and after pregnancy.

Mental Health Therapist Support: Total Wellbeing therapists provide free emotional wellbeing support online, via telephone, virtual 1-2-1 sessions and/or group workshops for women during and after pregnancy

Stop Smoking Support: Stopping smoking at ANY point during pregnancy is better than not stopping at all. Free support is also available for family members. Face to face or by telephone.

Call 0300 555 4152, Email or text ‘TWLpregnancy’ to 60066

Flying Start Learning & Development Hub: Free Training for Professionals

We are continuing to invest in providing opportunities for staff to access evidence based learning and development courses to support the primary prevention and early help key messages that underpin healthy development in the very earliest years of life.

At present we have the following training available:

  • Five to Thrive e-learning and in person training coming soon from KCA
  • SEND e-learning from KCA
  • Talking Takes Off- Universal and Enhanced training (both live and recorded)

Please check the professional training area of our website for the latest information and/or email / call 01582 548356

Community Dietetics

Community Dietetics Service

The Community Dietetic Service deliver the Family Food First programme in Luton, working with early years settings to encourage best practise in promoting good nutrition, oral health and physical activity. This award winning accreditation programme requires settings to undertake training and to follow a set of standards that demonstrate the setting is promoting and supporting healthy lifestyles. Over 20 settings in Luton are either achieving or working towards accreditation. The service have developed and delivered a wide range of interventions to support the Flying Start diet and nutrition outcome and have been a key partner in the development and delivery of the Child Healthy Weight Strategy and the Luton Food plan.

On behalf of Luton Council we would like to thank Emma Cronly-Dillon and her fantastic team for all their work on improving nutrition outcomes for children in Luton. It is with great sadness that this has been another service impacted by the financial cuts and the Public Health Dietetic contract will not continue after April 2021. The Family Food First programme is a real asset to Luton and we hope to work with Emma and the team to ensure the legacy of this programme and the hard work of the team is not lost.

Child Safety Week 7-13 June

Safe at Home support Child Safety week

Safe at Home is supporting CAPT and the theme is ‘Share because you care’  

The Burns Trust – Event

‘Every half an hour a child is ‘burned’ would you know what to do?

On Tuesday 8th June, the charity will be enhancing the Child Safety Week programme with a free webinar on burn prevention and first aid.

The online event, which begins at 1pm is aimed at parents, carers, grandparents, childcare professionals, teachers, health and social care professionals, and anyone with an interest in child safety. Expert speakers, including specialists from NHS Burns Services, will share with attendees how they can prevent an injury from happening and the right First Aid to administer if an accident does occur.

To Register for the online webinar :

Plus Safe at Home will be sharing a range of top tips to share with PARENTS / CHILDMINDERS / NURSERIES / GRANDPARENTS so look out for details.

If you work in a setting please can you display and promote child safety for parents/carers etc.

Details and downloadable resources are available on the CAPT website:

Follow Safe at Home and share because you care:

Facebook: /safeathomecip

Twitter: @safeathomecip

Instagram: @safeathomeluton


Safe at Home Scheme

Safe at Home Luton

We are a child  injury prevention service unique to Luton and support families who are pregnant or have a child under the age of 5 years. 

Our scheme provides all families who live in Luton a range of services to help raise awareness of accident prevention and reduce unintentional injuries.  We also support practitioners to understand and share information regarding keeping children safe and offer a range of training opportunities for staff to refresh/upskill or gain further knowledge, please contact us for details.

  • free home safety assessment for pregnant households and those with children aged 0-5
  • free child safety equipment for low income or vulnerable households
  • Practitioners can refer families to us by completing a secure online application:
  • Home Safety Awareness (online Zoom session)suitable for group of parents or practitioners and session can be adapted to suit requirements
  • Keeping Baby Safe (online Zoom session)suitable for group of pregnant or new parents to help provide top tips on product safety when choosing nursery items and Tubes of Life and what this means to a pregnant mother and infant
  • Tubes of Life Training (online Zoom session)suitable for group of practitioners who work with pregnant or new parents and would like to learn about the programme and how this helps to keep babies safe
  • Safety Messages are shared on our social media platforms Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – PLEASE FOLLOW US


Child Injury Prevention Officer: Elaine Ainsworth –  Mobile 0755 3348 485 – Email:

Safe at Home direct email:

Facebook: /safeathomecip

Twitter: @safeathomecip

Instagram: @safeathomeluton


Talking Takes Off Bench Project

Dreaming of life after the pandemic

We have a fantastic new project underway which is bringing together local schools and nurseries, professional artists, the Talking Takes Off team, Early Years Alliance, Flying Start and Luton 2040.

Artists have been recruited to work with children from five Luton nursery and primary schools to think about ‘the places they would like to visit, and things they would like to do when the pandemic is over’. Five professional illustrators will then transform the children’s ideas and drawings into high quality designs to be painted on five star-shaped benches. These benches will be installed in five recreation locations in June: Wardown Park arboretum, Stockwood Park, Runley Road Recreation Park, Manor Road Recreation Park and Icknield Recreation Park.

The aim of this project is to promote communication and language through the creative arts which will also have a lasting feature for our wider community. The children’s contributions will take pride of place on the benches which will further inspire communication in all its forms when they are used by children and adults in the parks. This project will shine a light on the voices of our children in Luton, who are also our citizens of the future. 

Funded by the Department for Education Early Outcomes fund, the five artists selected from a competitive pool of national applicants, Tom Guilmard, Roo, Alex Edwards Agg, Jenny Cox and Luton’s own Lauren Connolly, have already started interacting with children from River Bank Primary School, Fun to Learn Nursery and pre-school, Chapel Street Nursery School, Park Town Pre-school and Icknield Primary School, encouraging them to play, dream and get excited about sharing their ideas and drawings with each other. Luton’s own Aaron Spendelow of children’s arts organisation A Children’s Story is leading the workshops and said: ‘I am honoured to be the Creative Facilitator for this exciting project which will encourage and enable early years children to use their imagination skills to create stories. In working in collaborating with Flying Start, Luton 2040, five incredible artists and a selection of local early years children, I believe some incredible bold and bright creations will appear on star benches across the town very soon’. 

We look forward to seeing these fabulous creations in Luton parks early June. Look out for more photos and communications on social media over the coming weeks!

Cllr Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for education said: “Due to the current COVID-19 crisis many creative children’s engagement projects, ideas and investments have slowed down or stopped.

“We believe this is an opportunity to engage deeply with children in an innovative and engaging way and deliver colourful and uplifting pieces of street furniture that will brighten our lives as we return to socialising outdoors over the summer.

“It is such a great idea to have professional illustrators transform the ideas and drawings of children. When the participating children and their families see their drawings immortalised on these fun park benches they will feel a real sense of pride and feel a real connection to the places in which they live, learn and play. I cannot wait to see the final result.”

Flying Start Starting Well

Flying Start Starting Well Programme

The starting well programme aims to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities for children from preconception to two and a half years by offering a range of services for those most at risk of poor health outcomes. The programme will be delivered alongside Flying Start’s universal services to provide additional support in wards with highest levels of health inequalities.

The additional services will be offered to families in Dallow and South wards first and this will extend to include Farley and Northwell by September. Families in these wards will be offered support from one of our team to guide them through their pregnancy and the first 2.5 years supporting them individually and with accessing services. Programmes available for these families are outlined below.

We really need your feedback to help us develop the programmes that will best engage and support those families most in need. Please can you spare 5 minutes to complete this survey:


ESOL for pregnancy

This programme supports pregnant women with developing their English language skills with a focus on pregnancy and birth. These sessions aim to help enable women to be able to talk to their midwife and health visitor, increase their understanding of the importance of a healthy pregnancy for their baby’s health and development and build their confidence in asking and understanding questions about pregnancy, birth and their baby.

Suitable for: Pregnant women with limited English

Healthy Pregnancy Club

This programme provides social support and key information for a healthy pregnancy and includes sessions with and without partners. There are women only sessions that focus on mother’s health (eating well for pregnancy, physical activity and mental well-being) and sessions for partners to join that focus on baby’s health (labour and birth, feeding and sleep, safety and illness). Mothers will be encouraged to attend all 6 sessions but will be able to join individual sessions as necessary.

Suitable for: Pregnant women living in Dallow or South wards*


Starting Well

This programme provides social and emotional support to new mothers and information on feeding, attachment, sleep, parenting practicalities and physical well-being.

Suitable for: New mothers living in Dallow or South wards*

Families, Feelings and Food   Coming soon (Autumn 2021)         

This programme is based on the 5 ways to wellbeing (Take notice, keep learning, be active, give and connect) and supports parents with positive parenting and healthy lifestyles.

Suitable for: Parents with children aged 6 months to 2.5 years

In addition the above programmes families will be able to access our universal services. For more information visit

*(from September 2021 Farley and Northwell wards will be included)

Luton Libraries during Lockdown

Luton Central, Leagrave and Stopsley Libraries are currently still open with reduced hours offering:

Book Drop – a handy ‘Book Drop’ bin at the entrance doors so customers do not need to come into the library to return books. The return date for all items borrowed has been automatically renewed. Customers will not be charged overdue fees during lockdown.

Select & Collect.  – phone or email the library and choose from; pre-selected bundles, staff choice or specific titles. There is a great selection of books for babies and toddlers, just ask for a pre-selected bundle. How about a selection of Christmas books, nursery rhymes or a title from the new Covid Children’s Booklist;  a collection of books to help children stay safe, calm, connected and hopeful during the COVID-19 crisis.

Luton Libraries Online – join online for free access to a fantastic selection of books and resources to keep you amused at home.  You’ll find e-books, newspapers, magazines and comics, e-learning courses and streaming services including concerts and films. You can even research your family history with Find My Past and browse the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Home Library Service -The Home Library Service is free to Luton residents who are unable to visit their local library. Books are delivered to your home on a regular basis by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. For details on how to join this service call: 01582 491428

Children can take part in this year’s Winter Mini Challenge with a free-to-access website featuring rewards and incentives for reading and reviewing books.  The Winter Mini Challenge starts on Tuesday 1 December 2020 and ends on Friday 15 January 2021

*You can also pick up your Bookstart Baby pack from the library. Just contact your local library or the Bookstart Coordinator at:

We hope it’s not too long before we can safely welcome people back into libraries and restart some of our activities including: Knit and Natter, Colour Me Calm, Bookstart rhyme times and story times and library games.  In the meantime there’s never been a better time to join the library and access our great range of resources, including online story times and rhyme times, find out more at:

Healthy Pregnancy with Total Wellbeing and Active Luton

Total Wellbeing currently offers a range of services to support mums-to-be to achieve a healthy pregnancy and after baby is born.

The Healthy Pregnancy Services provide;

  • Free Health Walks for pregnancy and post-natal women (partners welcome too) once per week. This is a chance to walk and talk all things pregnancy and beyond. Walking is good for both our mental and physical health and it’s a great chance to meet other families. The walks are led by our Health Walk Leader and Nutritionist and some weeks a midwife attends to join in on the fun and answer any pregnancy related questions you may have!

Contact Laura today on 07850 938849 to book a space or refer a client. Alternatively, you can email a referral to

Women can self refer by texting PREGNANCYTWL to 60066

  • A ‘perinatal’ mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth. Having a baby is a big life event. It’s natural to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy and after giving birth. But if any difficult feelings start to have a big effect on day-to-day life, it might be a perinatal mental health problem. Total Wellbeing therapists can support and offer free online, telephone, virtual 1-2-1 sessions and group workshops. Contact the team today to find out more on 0300 555 4152 or refer via our referral form to
  • Stopping smoking at ANY point during pregnancy is better than not stopping at all. Women can self-refer by texting PREGNANCYTWL SSS to 60066 for support. Free support is also available for family members. You can refer to the service by sending a referral form to or contact 0300 555 4152.
  • Pregnancy nutrition support can be provided 1-2-1 virtually or via telephone for women who require further healthy pregnancy support in relation to healthy eating. This is provided by a Nutritionist. Contact Laura today on 07850 938849 to arrange or refer a client. Alternatively, you can email a referral to

Women can self refer by texting PREGNANCYTWL to 60066

All of the above services are available for women and families post birth. Their allocated advisor will guide them through this journey and provide them with the most suitable support throughout their time with Total Wellbeing.

Active Luton Pregnancy sessions

Active Luton also provide exercise support for pregnant women and sessions suitable for after birth:

  • Active Luton provide pregnancy specific exercise classes delivered by an ante-natal trained instructor. Each session is just £3 and any pregnant woman can attend (must receive clearance from midwife or GP to exercise safely). The must pre-book the session via telephone or online, to book visit: (More classes with be launching in January plus Aqua Natal). 
  • Legs bums and bring your tots fitness classes, you can find these at different centres on the timetable: Please contact the preferred centre to check what is still running during COVID. Sessions must be pre-booked.

Like Active Luton’s Facebook page to keep updated with what’s running during COVID: @activeluton

Healthy Start Scheme- Update November 2020

Healthy Start provides young pregnant women and low-income families with children under the age of 4 in England with free vitamins and food vouchers to purchase vegetables, fruit, pulses and cows’ milk.  From April 2021 the value of the Healthy Start vouchers will increase from £3.10 to £4.25 per week for families eligible for the scheme.

Retailers are beginning to recognise their role in supporting the scheme, for example, Iceland is offering a free bag of frozen veg to all families using Healthy Start vouchers in their stores. Tesco and various Co-op branches will also add an additional £1 to all healthy start vouchers used in-store across the winter.

Unfortunately the digitalisation of the Healthy Start scheme that was due to launch in October 2020 has been delayed until October 2021. This means that there are still challenges for families with applying for the scheme which still requires a physical form to be posted. This also means the number of stores that the vouchers can be used in is limited; currently there are 45 stores across Luton that accept the vouchers.

Since COVID 19 we have seen an increase in the number of families eligible for the scheme however uptake of the scheme remains low meaning that approximately 1500 families in Luton are missing out on the scheme. Opportunities to promote the scheme through Flying Start children’s centre has reduced and we will be looking for new ways to increase uptake of the Healthy Start scheme, including working with professionals, retailers and community organisations to promote the scheme.

All services working with pregnant women and families with children under 4yrs can help promote the scheme and support families with applications. To order application forms to be sent free visit:

Healthy Start Vitamins

Healthy Start Vitamins are available from some Children Centre sites at select times and parents need to call ahead to advise they are coming. To find out where and when vitamins can be collected see the Flying Start Children Centre timetable available here:

To find out more about the Healthy Start scheme or to organise a short staff training session on the scheme contact

National research project comes to Luton

Luton parents are participating in national research into Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities parenting course

Together Research, University College London is working with Flying Start Luton as part of their national research study aiming to assess whether parents who are offered this 13-week group-based parenting programme will feel better in themselves, feel less stressed and generally more able to cope with looking after their families.

For over 10 years, the Race Equality Foundation, a charity working to promote race equality in the UK, has been organising group-based parenting programmes for families particularly from minority ethnic communities and those living in poverty. Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communitieshas had major success in engaging with communities across many parts of the country. Although very popular with the families involved, including courses regularly offered in Luton, the programme had not yet been fully evaluated to show if it is effective in achieving its goals. The Race Equality Foundation, keen to address this gap in knowledge initiated this current study.

Across several urban areas of England, including Luton, where ethnically and socially mixed communities live, the course is being offered to families who either decided themselves that they need help or families referred by professionals. Parents taking part in the study have been randomly allocated to either immediately start the Luton course in January 2021 or to wait for a nine month period before starting it in September 2021.

All the parents agreeing to take part in the study have been interviewed by phone at the start, will be interviewed after the programme has been completed and then 6 months later. A smaller number of parents and staff involved in delivering the programme will be interviewed about their views and experiences of it.  This is a great opportunity for the voice of Luton parents to contribute to this important national research.

We are still recruiting parents for the courses.  They need to live in Luton and have a child aged between 3 and 16 years of age in the family.  Please send any referrals through to