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.

Flying Start Gold Award for Transition

A Flying Start Gold Award for Transition is now available to schools and settings in Luton to celebrate a child and family centred approach to school readiness.

The next available date for submission is Thursday 6th December 2018

This award involves:

  • An evidence portfolio completed by the school or the childcare setting based on the ‘Ready for School?’ criteria outlined below.
  • Upon completion, a certificate and the Flying Start Gold transition logo will be awarded to schools or settings at the termly Designated Safeguarding Officer meetings. This logo can then be displayed on the school/setting website or added to a prospectus

Further information on how to apply for the award can be found here https://www.flyingstartluton.com/transition/flying-start-gold-award-for-transition/

New materials and training to support children in Luton to start school successfully have been introduced by the Early Years team in Luton with funding from Flying Start.

The aim is to support school readiness by focusing on three key areas:

Is the family ready; is the child ready and is the school ready?

The materials were developed with input from schools, nurseries, settings, family workers, parents, childminders, the SEN team, school admissions, Flying Start and Flying Start Children’s Centres and include:

  • Printed leaflets on school readiness for parents and professionals
  • Practitioner training on transitions
  • School training on attachment

Further information can be found here on the Flying Start website: https://www.flyingstartluton.com/transition/

What will success look like for families, children and schools?

Is the family ready?

  • Feeder settings provide families with a timeline of transition into school and are better equipped to support parents with realistic school applications
  • All families receive the ‘Ready for School’ checklist with their school allocation letter – this links to the Flying Start Ready for School videos plus additional support materials
  • Families are able to access support through Flying Start for behaviour, toilet training, eating and sleeping concerns before their child starts school.
  • Families with children in settings receive a text on the day they receive their admissions letter taking them to the FS website
  • Parents inform their child’s current setting which school they have been allocated.
  • Families in need are provided with school uniform, shoes and school equipment
  • Parents are able to contact the family workers at their new school if they have any concerns before their child starts school.
  • The school offers new parents support through systems such as ‘Buddying‘ or ‘Parent Champions’

Is the child ready?

  • Parents have a clearer idea of what school readiness looks like and how they can best support their child before starting school. Videos and practical ideas are available on the Flying Start website.
  • Parents are encouraged to practice independence skills such as eating with a knife and fork, dressing and undressing and using the toilet unaided.
  • Where possible, the child knows the name of his/her new teacher and where s/he will be spending their days in school.
  • Parents are given the opportunity to share information on their child with their new school.

Is the school ready?

  • Settings know which schools their children are going to and are able to share all relevant information with the appropriate members of school staff, not just the school office.
  • Schools know the children who will be joining their school as early as possible and have their correct contact details.
  • The child’s voice and the parents’ voices are recorded on the transition documents.
  • Children’s PSED Autumn 2 outcomes show that they have settled well in school.
  • The school has a transition plan for late and in-year arrivals
  • School staff are supported to build positive and productive relationships with parents at this key transition period

Is the school ready?

  • Schools and settings sign up for the Flying Start Gold Award in Transitions which provides parents with assurances of a child centred approach to school readiness
  • School staff demonstrate an understanding of the importance of attachments linked to the principles of Five To Thrive


  • Reduced incidences of disruptive or acting-out behaviour
  • Reduced exclusions/reduced timetables in Nursery, Infant and Primary schools
  • All staff in settings and schools have a clear understanding of the Flying Start Parenting Offer and how to access these courses for their parents
  • Parents have a good relationship with their child’s new school
  • Settled, happy children

Longer term:

  • Reduced financial costs due to exclusions and intensive support
  • Reduced need for other statutory services such as Stronger Families and Social Care

For further information please contact Flying Start or Early Years Consultant susan.thomas@luton.gov.uk



Think Baby Groups

An attachment focused approach for parents and their baby offered in the Flying Start Children’s Centres

Flying Start and The Anna Freud Centre have been working collaboratively on a project over the past 18 months to offer a group for parents and babies with a focus on improving attachment. The Think Baby group is offered across all four of the Flying Start neighbourhoods and is a perfect group for you to refer into if you have concerns about the early attachment behaviour displayed by a parent and their baby.

Research shows that from conception to the age of two, a baby’s brain is developing fastest, meaning their earliest experiences shape their brain and can have a lifelong impact. Within this crucial period of development, a baby is most susceptible to forming strong bonds (known as attachment) with his or her parent or primary caregiver, and there is longstanding evidence that a baby’s social and emotional development is affected by their attachment to their parents.

Infants and parents can be at risk of negative impacts on their development and emotional wellbeing due to, for example, trauma (e.g. domestic violence), mental health issues (e.g. postnatal depression), economic hardship, and other challenging situations   (e.g. being a member of a minority or migrant group).  Other conditions, such as living in an area of high deprivation, can also place strain on the parent-infant relationship. In Luton there is a high level of socioeconomic disadvantage and the prevalence of mental health needs in under-5s is rising.

The Luton Parent Infant Project is an extension of a successful pilot to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children. Parent Infant Psychotherapy (PIP) is an approach to strengthen the parent-infant relationship, which has a unique reputation for making a real difference to the lives of high-risk parents and babies.

We have scaled up and extended the Anna Freud PIP model across Children’s Centres in Luton, following a successful pilot of the programme with Luton’s central neighbourhood in 2014/15. The project has involved training the Flying Start Children’s Centre workforce to improve their understanding of babies’ social and emotional developmental needs and the importance of the parent-infant relationship. In this way, they are better able to support parents and children within the non-stigmatising environment of drop-in baby groups. Improved relationships at this stage in a baby’s life can have a positive impact on mental health well into adulthood. This, in turn, improves educational, employment and social prospects for children as they grow. Additional in-depth training was provided by the Anna Freud Centre, and supported by CAMH, to develop facilitators skills to lead the Think Baby groups and provide reflective and calm environments where the focus is on the parent and child interaction.

The project is currently being evaluated by the Anna Freud Centre and an end of project report will be available in the Spring 2019. The project was kindly funded by the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust in partnership with Flying Start.

Think Baby group evaluation shows:

  • parents find the sessions offer a warm social environment for their baby
  • parents report feeling less isolated and that they understand their baby more
  • parents go on to access many more children’s centre services following participation in Think Baby
  • barriers are broken down across diverse ethnicity of the group

 Suitable referrals:

  • families where there may be attachment or bonding concerns
  • targeted families on Universal Plus or Partnership Plus pathways, or open to early help or social care

Referrals can be made using the Children’s Centre service request form https://www.flyingstartluton.com/childrenscentres/ and centres will contact parents to invite them to the session. As the referrer, please ensure you have consent from the parent for this contact to be made. Parents can also self-refer.

Flying Start Central at Blenheim Crescent Church Hall, LU3 1HB, Wednesdays 1.30pm to 2.45pm                           

Flying Start North at Gill Blowers Nursery at Leabank, LU3 3LW, Tuesdays 1.00pm to 2.30pm      

Flying Start South at The Mall Children’s Centre, LU1 2TW, Wednesdays 10.00am to 11.30am                                                                                  

Flying Start West at Leagrave Children’s Centre, LU4 9ND, Mondays 1.00pm to 2.30pm                                                  


Style of group:

  • run as a drop-in group for parents with children 0 to 12 months
  • all facilitators have been trained to understand the psychological needs of parents and infants for healthy development
  • the parents, through a subtle change in delivery style, are encouraged to be focused on their interactions with their babies rather than more traditional styles of activities in baby groups
  • groups offer a calm and relaxed atmosphere making them ideal for parents who find regular sessions intimidating



Immunising preschool children against flu

Each year the flu immunisation programme helps provide protection to individual children. Children under the age of five have the highest hospital admission rates for flu compared to other age groups.

The immunisation programme also reduces the spread of flu to their families, younger siblings, grandparents and the wider community, protecting others who are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from flu. Vaccination is in the form of a nasal spray.


Children less than 2 years old, but over six months of age, with a long term health condition that puts them at increased risk of flu should also have annual flu vaccination. Children under the age of 2 will be offered an injected vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for them.

All children who are aged two and three years old can get the vaccine at their general practice.

A programme for schools runs alongside the preschool programme and all those in reception class and school years 1 to 5 will be offered flu vaccination this autumn in their school.

There are other ways you can limit the spread of flu:

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and warm water
  • use tissues to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
  • Regularly clean surfaces such as tables, and door handles which can also help to get rid of germs.
  • Protect yourselves. Young children are frequently “spreaders” of flu germs, by accessing the vaccine you will protect yourselves, your family and those you work with.



Pre School Boosters

Shown below are the pre-school immunisations every child will be offered at three years and four months of age. These immunisations protect against serious childhood diseases as children grow up and will “top up” their antibody levels from baby immunisations

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio (dTaP/IPV or DTaP/IPV)

This is given as one injection and is a booster dose of these vaccines which were given during the first 4 months of life.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

This is given as one injection and is a second dose of the MMR vaccine given at one year of age.  Occasionally, complete immunity to measles, mumps or rubella does not develop after a single dose of the MMR vaccine so two doses are required

(If a child has not had the first dose yet, it should be given now and the second dose one month later)

When children attend for their pre-school immunisations it is important to make sure all their other immunisations are up to date. The GP practice will have a record of immunisations children have received.








Flying Start Antenatal Programme

Working in partnership with Luton and Dunstable Hospital (LDH) and Cambridgeshire Community Services (CCS), Flying Start provides a range of antenatal groups and sessions free of charge for parents living in Luton. On booking at LDH, mums receive a letter outlining the antenatal services on offer and they can self-book on to each session.

Women-only groups:

Early on:

From 8+ weeks mums are welcome to attend an evening Pregnancy Club that runs once a month. This group is led by a midwife and also hosts a different agency speaker each month. It promotes a range of public health messages during pregnancy whilst answering general pregnancy questions. 135 mums have attended at least once since July 2017, half of whom return for more than one session. Evaluation shows that the group helps to reduce worries mum may have in pregnancy and helps counteract social isolation by providing the opportunity to meet others in the same situation.

Later on (but can be booked early):

For those mums with additional needs such as anxiety/depression or social care involvement, Think Bump is the new four week programme starting in January to help mum relax and look forward to the arrival of their baby. This programme replaces the current six-week ‘Mellow Bumps’ course, condensing the content. Think Bump should be attended between 20 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Women can self-book but professionals can also refer by contacting Jess at the Flying Start Office (01582 548356). Since July 2017, 48 mums have attended at least one Mellow Bumps session and pre and post course scoring shows that on average there is a reduction in depression, anxiety and irritability after attending this course.

Groups women can access with a partner:

Early on:

In the early stages of pregnancy before too many purchases have been made, it is recommended for both mum and partner to attend the Choosing and Using Nursery Equipment Workshop delivered by Safe at Home, with a focus on Child Safety. There is one workshop a month and since July 2017,110 parents have attended – 68% mothers and 32% partners. Parents often express that this workshop highlights practical safety issues that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Later on (but can be booked early):

Bump to Babe is the three week antenatal course provided for mum and partner to attend from 25 weeks. The course is delivered by children’s centre practitioners with a midwife and health visitor on different weeks. Content covers labour and birth, caring for the newborn in the first few weeks, brain development, child safety and local services available. The group offers an environment to ask the professionals questions and therefore ease the unknown for first time parents. Since July 2017 around 750 parents have attended, 40% of which are partners of expectant mums. Evaluation is positive that it helps parents prepare for their new arrival.

Similarly, from 24 weeks, mums-to-be and partners can attend a ‘Feeding your newborn session’ run by specialist feeding advisors in CCS. This session provides top tips, advice and support regarding feeding a newborn baby.

The risks of smoking and/or high Carbon Monoxide Levels during pregnancy

The Maternity Unit at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital followed the National trend of ‘Stoptober’ during October; highlighting to women the importance of stopping smoking for good during their pregnancy to reduce the risk of stillbirth, premature birth, underweight babies and cot death. The waiting areas were filled with information to raise awareness of the risks of smoking during pregnancy and the potential harm this can cause to their newborn baby.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas which can kill. It is present in exhaust fumes, faulty gas appliances, coal/wood fires, oil burning appliances and cigarette smoke, including passive cigarette smoke. It is especially dangerous in pregnancy because the more carbon monoxide a women has in her bloodstream, the less oxygen she has for her baby’s growth and development.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) screening is now routine during a pregnancy booking, in accordance with NICE guidance. This enables midwives to assess and fully explain to women their level of ‘risk’ in her pregnancy and encourage participation with local smoking cessation services if required. CO screening is easily performed by blowing into a tube and the level of carbon monoxide being measured within the blood. Our aim is to make CO screening routine throughout pregnancy and the postnatal period, similar to measuring blood pressure, testing urine and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. Referrals should be made for any women that pose a ‘risk’ with a high level CO to ensure their ‘living’ environment is safe for her developing baby and subsequent newborn baby.

The local smoking cessation for Luton is run by Total Wellbeing. They have specialist pregnancy trained advisors, with some who speak a variety of languages.

Please contact Jayne Pigott – Public Health Midwife on healthypregnancy@nhs.net or 07837 090679 for further details or visit https://www.totalwellbeingluton.org/stop-smoking.html


For further reading and information please visit:








Volunteering with Flying Start

Flying Start works to make a real difference to the lives of young children from pregnancy to five years of age and their families. Our aim is to ensure that lives and life chances improve from generation to generation.

Flying Start recognises the importance of the very early years of life in making that real difference, giving every child the best start in life and tackling inequalities.

Luton’s approach to early year’s language development has been praised by Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education.

Flying Start is a partnership led initiative with local families, local communities and partners such as Luton Council, the Pre-school Learning Alliance, and the Clinical Commissioning Group working together to help shape and direct our work.

Volunteering is an important part of Flying Start, by harnessing the energy and local knowledge of volunteers in making a real difference to the lives of Luton’s families.

This is achieved by creating volunteering opportunities for communities to play an active role in the delivery of Flying Start’s three key aims;

  1. Improve babies and young children’s communication and language skills
  2. Support healthy bonding between parents and their babies and young children
  3. Support improved birth outcomes and encourage healthy diet and lifestyles for babies, young children and their families


Flying Start are now recruiting and training volunteers to a range of roles;

  • Support Volunteer
  • Administration Volunteer
  • ICAN Ambassador – to develop good communication and language skills (further training will be required for this role)

Volunteers will be expected to attend a workshop followed by training to provide support in embedding the role and expectations of a volunteer. Volunteers are supported by the Volunteer Support Officer (VSO) who will also support in identifying training opportunities.

Checks are undertaken to ensure the continuation of a safe environment for children and families.

The VSO working closely with the Early Years Support Officers (EYSO), also known as Area Volunteer Champion (AVC), will ensure a streamlined process of delivery at the point of contact.


If you would like to find out more please contact Sharon.hill@luton.gov.uk                                                                                                 or call Flying Start team 01582 548335