Lottery funding to improve children's early years

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Groups in 15 areas of England are to share £5m of Lottery funding to help parents support their children in their early years.

The Big Lottery Fund cash will be used to draw up ideas to improve children's lives up to the age of three.

Next year up to five of the schemes will receive multi-million pound investments to develop their plans.

The overall initiative involves a £165m investment for up to 10 years aimed at helping more than 10,000 children.

'Profound effect'

The areas awarded funding are Leicester, Nottingham, Luton, Southend-on-Sea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Haringey, Middlesbrough, Northumberland, Newcastle, Greater Manchester, Blackpool, Medway, Bradford and Sheffield.

Among the groups involved are Barnardo's, The Children's Society, NSPCC and other family and learning groups.

Their schemes will look at ways of improving the physical, emotional and psychological foundations for children during the first three years of their lives.

Among the reasons the areas were chosen were levels of referrals to children's social care, the number of children under protection plans, child obesity levels, overcrowded housing and domestic violence.

Scientist Lord Robert Winston, said: "Our earliest environment, even before birth, has a profound effect on our later lives.

"Our health, our educational attainment, our personality and our relationships are hugely influenced by what happens in the womb and particularly during those first three years of our lives as small children."

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