Day 1: 22nd September 2021 2pm – 5.30pm

Time Session

Welcome and introduction


Early help for families: Strengthening the foundations of social care’s “Jenga tower”

This session will explore the evidence and recommendations from National Children’s Bureau research on the role of early help services for children and families who need extra support. Supporting and strengthening families through early help: A rapid review of evidence examines variations in what is meant by early help; the range of different interventions and the potential for positive outcomes for families; and the challenges in evaluating early help services. It comes on the back of a report by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which likened the children’s services system in England to a “tower of Jenga, held together with Sellotape”.

The session will discuss findings, implications for practice and how these link in with the children’s social care review.

Caroline Coady, Assistant Director for Social Care, National Children’s Bureau



Early help: a local authority perspective

Every aspect of children’s services and the communities they serve has been affected by Covid-19, which has heightened stark disparities between disadvantaged children and young people, and their peers.

This presentation will provide a local authority perspective on current challenges and solutions.

Matt Dunkley CBECorporate Director - Children, Young People and Education, Kent County Council




Using innovation methods to redesign early years services

Children born into disadvantage are more likely to experience poorer health, lower earnings and lower levels of happiness than their peers. Social innovation agency Nesta has been working with local authorities to trial, adapt and improve services to support children in their earliest years.

This session will cover:

  • An overview of Nesta’s Early Years Discovery Partnerships with City of York Council, Leeds City Council and Stockport Council/Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Insights generated during these projects to inform the development of early years services
  • A view from Leeds on the challenges, learning and opportunities in using innovation methods in service planning
  • Practical tips on innovation methods local authorities and their partners can use

Hessy Elliot, Senior Analyst, A Fairer Start Mission, Nesta 
LJ Woodward, Locality Lead (Health and Early Intervention), Stockport Family


Baby steps to happy parenting

Bradford Better Start’s Baby Steps programme supports vulnerable women and their partners during pregnancy and their baby’s first months.

This presentation will show how a combination of delivery approaches has strengthened engagement, reach and retention and resulted in better health, resilience and parent-child relationships among families in inner-city Bradford.

The session will cover:

  • The importance of developing strong relationships with participants in advance
  • How expert input – from midwives and others – boosts confidence and helps families successfully plan for parenthood
  • Effective liaison with maternity services to identify families and ensure appropriate referrals

Riffat Nasser, Programme Facilitator, Better Start Bradford
Samantha Millen, Baby Steps Manager, Action For Children

4.40pm  Break

Evaluating early help services: keys to success

Robust and effective evaluation is key to improving outcomes and value for money.

This session will draw on the Early Intervention Foundation’s 10 Steps For Evaluation Success guidance to provide practical tips on how to get from a good idea to an intervention that really works, or take a fresh look at existing services.

It will cover topics including:

  • Developing your model
  • Setting up a pilot
  • Testing for effectiveness
  • Refining and monitoring
  • Scaling up

Dr Kirsten Asmussen, Head of What Works, Child Development, Early Intervention Foundation


End of Day 1

Day 2: 23rd September 2021 2pm – 5.30pm

Time Sessions

Welcome and introduction 


Early intervention: The next 10 years

In 2011, Graham Allen produced two key reports for government highlighting the vast social and economic benefits of investing in early intervention. A decade on from this influential piece of work, he will review progress and look ahead to the next 10 years.

What practical steps are needed now to ensure early intervention is at the forefront of policy and spending at a local, regional and national level?

Graham Allen, Founder, Early Intervention Foundation


Creating positive futures – working together to impact learning

Tutoring is a key strand of the government’s policy to help some of the most disadvantaged pupils catch up on education missed during the pandemic.

Not-for-profit tutoring organisation Tutor Trust is a partner with the National Tutoring Programme and provides services to schools across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Leeds and Bradford.

It has worked with Parklands Primary School in Leeds for a year with positive results.

This session will look at what makes for great tutoring and why good relationships, clear communication and being adaptable are key.

Chris Dyson, Headteacher, Parklands Primary School

Sharon Sadler, Leeds Schools Partnership Manager, Tutor Trust

 3.20PM Break 

Preventing knife crime – lessons learned from work with young people in Avon and Somerset

The Blunt Truth is a collaboration between Avon and Somerset Police and the NHS aimed at encouraging young people to make a report if they know someone is carrying a knife.

The workshop – designed to be delivered in schools and youth settings - features a powerful film co-created with young people and teaches participants potentially life-saving first aid skills.

This session will cover:

  • Challenges in tackling knife crime
  • Lessons learned from direct work with young people – how their feedback shaped the project
  • Working in partnership to deliver an effective intervention

PC Kris Withers, Youth Engagement Officer, Violence Reduction Unit – Bristol, Avon and Somerset Police

Elli Campbell, Youth Project Co-ordinator – Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, Avon and Somerset Police


We care, do you? Identifying and supporting young people with caring responsibilities

Identifying young carers early on and ensuring they get the right support is crucial but their needs were not always recognised or prioritised during the pandemic.

Sheffield Young Carers has been working with young carers aged eight to 25 across the city for nearly a quarter of a century.

This session will cover:

  • Practical steps to ensure the early identification of young carers including those from the most disadvantaged groups
  • Lessons learned from the pandemic and what this means for support services going forward
  • A young carer’s perspective on what really makes a difference
  • Tips and advice for policy makers and professionals on supporting young carers

Laura Selby, Deputy Manager, Sheffield Young Carers.
Sara Rehman, Trustee of Sheffield Young Carers and Young Adult Carer

4.40pm Break 

Panel discussion: Children and young people’s mental health post-Covid - why early help is crucial to recovery

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact on emotional and mental wellbeing, affecting children and young people of all ages and backgrounds.  This session brings together experts in the field of mental health support for children and young people to discuss why early help is so important and how policy makers and professionals can make it a reality.

Emily Dobson, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, YoungMinds
Dr William Guri; Regional Clinical Lead for London and Southern England, Place2Be
Emma Ward, Mental Health First Aid and Youth Group Support Officer, YouthFed

Derren Hayes, Editor, Children & Young People Now (Panel chair)

5.30pm Close of conference