Lotto cash boost to help children

Lord Robert Winston after he had officially opened the new Sciences Complex at Sunderland University
Lord Robert Winston after he had officially opened the new Sciences Complex at Sunderland University
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Plans to give children in deprived areas of Sheffield a better start in life have received a six-figure boost from the Lottery.

Upperthorpe-based Sheffield Cubed, which supports voluntary groups in the city, is one of 15 organisations across the country to win a share of £15 million from the Big Lottery Fund.

The money is to be used to develop long-term plans to support thousands of parents in giving their children the best start in life.

Five of the 15 groups will then win an investment of between £30 and £50m over the next 10 years to deliver their plans.

Debbie Mathews, a trustee at Sheffield Cubed, said: “It’s exciting, but quite daunting. The challenge is to put together a plan that will catch the attention of the Lottery.”

Sheffield Cubed is receiving £400,000 towards its plan, Fulfilling Lives: Better Start, Sheffield.

It will be targeted at pregnant women and families with children aged up to three in the Sheffield wards of Shiregreen and Brightside, Manor Castle and Darnall.

Ms Mathews, said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity for Sheffield Cubed to look at how we shape and integrate services for families and nought to three-year-olds in three very complex neighbourhoods.”

Plans include encouraging breast feeding and educating parents about nutrition, as well as supporting children to develop their language and communication skills.

Sarah Slowther, Sheffield Cubed business development manager, said it was about giving children in the city the best start in life.

She said: “The focus of our plan is nutrition, social and emotional development, and language and communication.”

Sheffield Hallam University chancellor Lord Robert Winston, emeritus professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, has backed the investment.

He said: “Our health, educational attainment, personality and relationships are hugely influenced by what happens during those first three years of our lives.”

Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We’re delighted to be through to the final stage in this Lottery bid for investment in child development in the first 3 years.

“We want to be able to better support all parents and children in speech and language development, eating and nutrition and family bonding, to ensure that all children have the best possible start in life.”