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Early years academic’s lifetime work comes to fruition with government report

Date 26.03.2021

A University academic’s lifelong drive to improve the health and life chances for babies and children is coming to fruition, following her part in a new government review.

Dr Eunice Lumsden is an Associate Professor at the University of Northampton and Subject Lead for Childhood and Youth and Families in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society.

She qualified as a social worker in 1982 but has concentrated on research, national governmental advisory work and lecturing about early years and childhood since 2002.

Her most recent achievement saw her appointed to the Early Years Healthy Development Review. Led by the Government’s Early Years Health Adviser advisor, Rt Hon. Andrea Leadsom MP, the report of the review has now been published.

Experts agree the care given during the first 1001 days has more influence on a child’s future than at any other time in their life. With this at its core, there are two parts to the report: supporting families and supporting the workforce.

It sets out action areas to improve health outcomes for babies and young children. These include welcoming and supportive hubs for families and developing a modern, skilled workforce to meet the changing needs of families and babies.

Eunice’s part in the review was as a member of the academic advisory group ensuring joined-up working across the health and care spectrum was woven into the fabric of the final report, which is now official government policy. It is now moving into an implementation phase.

She explains her vision, personal mission statement and work to deliver the review: “I am delighted that the Early Years Healthy Development Review report is now published. Its recommendations are far-reaching, ambitious even, but shows there is a real drive to push a joined-up approach to early years health inequalities to the top of everyone’s agenda. I think it is important to acknowledge that we have addressed some of these issues before, but we must seize this opportunity to rebuild even stronger foundations.

“For me, this is a very personal moment. As long as I can remember, I have known what it is like to have your life shaped by the circumstances of your birth.  Improving life chances for babies and children is what I came into the job for, it’s what gets me up in the morning and powers me through the day. I have faced so many barriers up to this point but, even when I think I’m ‘nearly there’, there’s always more work to do.

“Access to early years services can be patchy. Parents don’t know what they are entitled to, what is available or where to go to find it. This report aims to create a more cohesive approach. We have to listen to parents and carers when they tell us they do not understand the systems we have created.

“Local authorities and partner organisations together can work with families and health and care professionals to turn what is on paper into a reality. From midwifery services, breastfeeding support and even transportation help for those in rural areas, there is huge scope here to make a big difference to families’ lives. I encourage people to read the report for themselves.”

For more about the published review, see the Government website.

Follow conversation on social about the review by using the hashtag #IAmBackingBabies