Big Lottery Fund invites agencies to bid for £770,000 project to improve early-years development

The Big Lottery Fund is searching for an agency to deliver a far-reaching £595,000 comms campaign focused on developing early social, emotional and language skills in children, from pregnancy to the age of four.

The Big Lottery Fund is seeking an agency partner to deliver a far reaching child-development campaign (pic credit: Jenna Selby)
The Big Lottery Fund is seeking an agency partner to deliver a far reaching child-development campaign (pic credit: Jenna Selby)
A further £175,000 has been earmarked by the non-departmental public body, which is guided by policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, for evaluating the four-year project.

The campaign – part of the A Better Start initiative – aims to help parents and carers understand why and how to interact with children to aid their development, with the priority to avoid being judgemental or adding pressure to families.

It will be delivered across five areas: Bradford; Blackpool; Lambeth; Nottingham and Southend-on-Sea – areas regarded as leaders in child development. 

A competitive procurement process is due to take place in November, with the contract awarded on 4 December, and work beginning that week.

Sarah Gibbs, head of funding for A Better Start at the Big Lottery Fund, told PRWeek the goal was to find an agency as "excited by [the campaign’s] potential impact as we are".

We see this campaign as a really exciting opportunity to take the evidence and science behind good early social, emotional and language development and make it relevant and real to the everyday lives of new parents and caregivers.

Sarah Gibbs, head of funding for 'A Better Start' at the Big Lottery Fund
She added: "We see this campaign as a really exciting opportunity to take the evidence and science behind good early social, emotional and language development and make it relevant and real to the everyday lives of new parents and caregivers. We want a campaign that embeds their expertise and experiences into every stage, ensuring we use the most effective channels to reach even more parents and caregivers and to amplify and reinforce the impact of ensuring every child enjoys a positive start."

One of the critical aspects of the work is to devise ways of communicating with hard-to-reach groups because the audiences across the five areas span diverse communities.

While the Big Lottery Fund wants the campaign to have core messages that run throughout its comms, the plan is for customisation to engage people properly in each individual area.

The campaign could include smartphone apps, for families who can’t access conventional support, while materials are to be planned in collaboration with local people, with a need to reflect diverse racial and ethnic communities, and languages spoken.

Gibbs added: "A crucial element will be evaluating how messaging can be shaped and shared to raise understanding and awareness of the importance of social, emotional and language development. The insight and learning which emerges from this campaign will help our partnerships - and others, nationally – to continuously improve the design of future activity." 


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