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North east charity urges business leaders to act now to protect future skills

North East charity The Children’s Foundation is urging businesses leaders to act now to future proof regional skills and protect the people who will make up the workforce of the future.

The North East has the second-highest rate of low income and deprivation after Inner London and the CEO of The Children’s Foundation has launched a campaign to address inequality in the region when it comes to child development, and give every child the best start possible. The Baby Box project has been developed by working with, and listening to parents, midwives, family nurses, GPs and experts and contains books and developmentally stimulating toys, as well as essential items to get families started and support with the rising cost of living.

The charity is now urging North East businesses to invest in the workforce of tomorrow, by supporting first time parents and their babies today.

Sean Soulsby, CEO of The Children’s Foundation said, “The Baby Box campaign comes at a time when more families than ever need our support. The aim is to raise £1 million to get a Baby Box into the hands of every first time parent in the region, and ultimately the whole of the UK. Positive experiences early in life are closely associated with better performances at school, good emotional development, improved work outcomes, and better lifelong health. Tackling these issues is vital to levelling up.

“The Baby Box campaign comes at a time when more families than ever need our support. The Baby Box has been designed to level the playing field when it comes to child development in our region and give newborn babies in vulnerable families the best start in life – raising the aspirations in the North East and creating a future of happy, resilient and creative community.

“We have a long history of doing amazing things here in the North East; back in the 1990s the business community helped us to raise over £12 million to build The Sir James Spence Institute of Child Health in the grounds of Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, and it’s time to come together to do it again.

“The Children’s Foundation was founded over 30 years ago to support the needs of children and families at the time, and those needs are now more significant than ever. Businesses owe it to their communities to ensure that they have the opportunity to raise well-rounded, creative, confident and aspirational children, no matter what their economic circumstances are.

“Far too many North-East children are born into poverty and our region has fallen behind others in terms of school attainment and health inequalities. The Baby Box is a great way to support healthy baby development through simple every day moments. Infant mortality in the North East is higher than the national average. The Baby Box is a cost-effective scheme to help reduce inequalities in the North East and, in time, we hope that the scheme will be adopted across the whole of the UK.

“This isn’t just a fluffy, nice thing for leaders to do; if businesses don’t invest in the wider communities and issues that surround them, especially children and young people, then that has a direct impact on their workforce or customer base of the future. It is people who make up businesses and it is essential that leaders today understand the crucial role that they play in shaping what our regional society looks like tomorrow.

“The people in the North East are incredibly generous – both with time and money, but also with expertise and connections. As a region we have a long history of working together to get things done and it really shows in the caliber of organisations that call the region home.”

The Children’s Foundation, based at the RVI in Newcastle, pioneered the ‘Little Red Book’ that all parents across the UK will be familiar with, right here in the North East. The aim is that The Baby Box will be adopted by NHS Trusts nationally in the same way and made a staple part of supporting every child, whatever their circumstance, to achieve their potential.

Businesses in the region are invited to pay it forward by purchasing a box as a gift for expectant parents as they head off on maternity and paternity. Every box purchased will provide The Children’s Foundation with funding so that they can gift an additional box to a vulnerable family right here in the region.

Individuals who would like to support the campaign and improve the health and well-being of children and young people in the North East can donate £3 by texting ‘MAM to 70450. To learn more, visit The Children’s Foundation website.