Sarah Cowling CEO

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Experts in child development, education, public health and politics will gather in Newcastle today ( Thursday November 27) for a brainstorming session on giving children the best start in life despite the cutbacks.

The round table debate, called “The Best Start in Life In Newcastle – meeting the challenge in tough times” will look at the long term consequences of cutting services to very young children and their families, and ask how to make the most of existing budgets.

Organiser Sarah Cowling, Chief Executive of HealthWORKS Newcastle, said: “It’s been proved that investing money in helping pre-school children pays off in the long term. The more we support parents to nurture their children, the less likely we are to face problems of illiteracy, crime, poor health and unemployment later in life.

“But now we face massive cuts which will have dire long term consequences.

“Everyone agrees that it’s awful, and politicians admit that it is a dreadful shame but there seems to be a lack of commitment to the principle of early investment, no one is lobbying for the children or looking for alternatives. I hope this debate will inspire politicians and other experts to be more radical in their planning for the future, instead of looking for short term fixes.”

Over the next 3 years Newcastle City Council has to manage cuts totalling £90 million. In the first year, the City Council Cabinet have proposed to cut the Early Years budget from £11 million to £7 million. Sarah Cowling believes this will lead to serious and expensive problems for future decades.

The debate will be chaired by Polly Toynbee, a socio-economic commentator and Guardian columnist. It has attracted top level people from a range of organisations; including Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, Dr Eugene Milne Director of Public Health Newcastle, John Egan from Action For Children, and Catherine McKinnell MP Newcastle North who is expecting her 4th child and has a particular interest in child poverty.

It will take place in the children’s centre embedded in HealthWORKS Community Family Hub in Lemington.


Recent Guardian article : Is saving Newcastle a mission impossible?

Background papers click here


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