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750 ‘BOXES OF JOY’ TO BE DELIVERED TO NORTH EAST FIRST TIME FAMILIES THANKS TO SIX FIGURE GRANT

ByMOLE Creative

Dec 14, 2023

NORTH OF TYNE COMBINED AUTHORITY has awarded £187,000 to The Children’s Foundation to fund 750 essential Baby Boxes for first-time parents across the North East.  

Inspired by the original Finnish baby box, the box is the first of its kind to take a developmental approach to a child’s wellbeing, rather than focusing solely on their physical needs. Each box is packed with stimulating toys and books which encourage playing, laughing, reading, singing and counting, as well as essential items such as a blanket, changing mat, bath towel and thermometer, to help families get started. The grant from North of Tyne Combined Authority will enable The Children’s Foundation to provide 750 baby boxes to families across the region. 

The North East has the second-highest rate of low income and deprivation in the UK after Inner London.  The North of Tyne Child Poverty Prevention Progamme seeks to reduce the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on babies through a focus on the first ‘1,001 critical days’, which are the days from pregnancy through to the child’s second birthday.

The Baby Box is an essential project for the region which aims to give every first time parent and their baby  in the region the best start possible. The project has been created by listening to children, parents, midwives, family nurses, GPs and experts on the, ‘1,001’ critical days movement, to understand how important these early years are for shaping the rest of our lives. The project was launched by The Children’s Foundation in March 2023, with the first boxes being delivered to families in Newcastle and Gateshead.  This funding from North of Tyne Combined Authority enables the scheme to scale rapidly with the project now expanding into Northumberland and North Tyneside for the first time. 

The Children’s Foundation has a target of raising £1 million to make sure every child in our region gets the support that they need to thrive. Businesses in the region are invited to ‘pay it forward’ this Christmas by supporting the campaign as part of their festive community giving campaigns. Businesses can also purchase a box for a colleague heading off on maternity or paternity, and a second box will be donated to a vulnerable family right here in the region.  

Sean Soulsby, CEO of The Children’s Foundation said “Bringing a newborn home from hospital is an exciting, but often overwhelming time, and we want to remind parents, families, and carers that they are not alone during those critical early days. 

“Over the last year we have delivered 110 Baby Boxes to first-time parents and this support from the North of Tyne Combined Authority is a game changer for the project, allowing us to rapidly scale the work we are doing to support first-time families across the whole region. The Baby Box is a great way to support healthy baby development through simple everyday moments and we are already seeing the real-world impact that they are having. Infant mortality in the North East is higher than the national average. The Baby Box may be a cost-effective scheme to help reduce inequalities in the North East and, in time, we hope that the scheme will be adopted across the whole of England.  

 “Positive experiences early in life are closely associated with better performances at school, good emotional development, improved work outcomes, and better lifelong health. Tackling these issues is vital to levelling up.” 

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said:

“Having a child is beautiful and joyous, but as any parent will tell you, it is also stressful and expensive. Household budgets are severely squeezed right now.

“We are the first Combined Authority to use our investment fund to tackle child poverty. You can’t build a resilient regional economy without providing security for families.

“Giving new parents a baby box is a great way to ensure our youngsters have the best possible start in life. 

“This isn’t just about providing the essentials, it’s about nurturing early learning, wellbeing and a sense of security from day one. By focusing on a child’s development in this way, we’re laying the groundwork from them to do well at school, get a decent job and lead a fulfilling life.”

Cllr Karen Kilgour, Cabinet Member for Education, Inclusion and Skills, and Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, added:

“All children should have the best possible start in life, and investing in an initiative like this is an investment in our region’s future.

“By supporting families during those crucial 1,001 days, we are paving the way for their children to thrive.”

Individuals who would like to support the campaign and improve the health and well-being of children and young people in the North East can donate £3 to the Children’s Foundation Baby Box campaign by texting ‘MAM to 70450.

To learn more, visit: www.thechildrensfoundation.co.uk