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A Better Start

Aiming to deliver a change to improve the life chances of children aged 0-3
Funding size:
£30 million - £50 million
Total available:
£165 million
Application deadline:
See programme details

What’s it all about?

This programme is now closed for applications

Our new £165m Fulfilling Lives: A Better Start initiative aims to deliver a step change in preventative approaches in pregnancy and the first three years of life to improve life chances of babies and young children.

The key features of the programme are.

  • We invest £30-£50 million in 3-5 areas, each with a population of approximately 50,000 for 8 to 10 years.
  • Each area runs a variety of programmes and initiatives to improve outcomes for children in three key areas of development: social and emotional development; communication and language development; and nutrition.
  • There will be a ‘systems change’ in the way that local health, public services and the voluntary sector work together to put prevention in early life at the heart of service delivery and practice.

What are we looking for?

We will make awards for 8 to 10 years for specific geographic areas. 

Each area should have a total population of between 30,000 and 70,000 people, and be an area where a range of health, education and social indicators provide evidence of deprivation and high levels of need amongst children. The selected area can be made up of adjacent wards or may comprise two or more separate clusters of wards.

Where are we now

In August we announced £5 million in development funding to be shared by fifteen areas in England to build long term plans to support thousands of parents in giving their children the best start in life. Final applications will be submitted by a lead voluntary and community sector organisation in each of the shortlisted areas, with three to five awards announced by Summer 2014.

The 15 shortlisted areas receiving development grants are:

Area Lead Org Region Grant
Leicester    Barnardo's  East Midlands  233,100
Nottingham    Nottingham Citycare Partnership CIC   East Midlands  367,950
Luton  Pre-school Learning Alliance   East of England 380,000
Southend-on-Sea  Pre-school Learning Alliance   East of England  199,260
Lambeth  National Children's Bureau   London  345,500
Lewisham  The Children's Society   London  398,200
Haringey  Barnardo's  London  395,142
Middlesbrough    Barnardo's  North East   398,531
Northumberland   Barnardo's   North East   398,966
Newcastle   Children North East   North East   111,623
Greater Manchester   The Children's Society   North West   399,300
Blackpool   NSPCC   North West   393,754
Medway   Family Action   South East   264,500
Bradford   Bradford Trident   Yorks & Humber   347,000
Sheffield   Sheffield Cubed   Yorks & Humber   400,000


Support and development

Those of you that attended the recent before you apply events we held in London and Leeds will know that we have appointed the Social Research Unit at Dartington to support the 10 -15 shortlisted areas to build and refine their strategies for stage 2.
Dartington have a wealth of excellent advice and information that will be useful in helping you think about any additional development support you may want to apply for at stage 1, as well as giving you a full understanding of the depth of support that will be available for those that make the shortlist at stage 2.


The theory of change animation from the Centre for the Developing Child shows the importance of building adult capabilities to improve child outcomes:




  • Health and well-being
  • Young People
  • Children and young people


  • Children
  • Families