Building Babies Brains – 1001 Community Champions
‘Building Babies Brains – 1001 Community Champions’ is a community focused approach, led by Action for Children, that aims to convey to parents, carers and families, key messages about baby brain development using trusted messengers. These messengers are volunteers, community members, and the early years workforce, whose daily life brings them into regular contact with families and children aged 0-2 years old.
Building on the vision of the 1001 Critical Days campaign, initiative aims to create a shared understanding and common language around what babies need for the best start in life.
Prospective community champions can attend a six-session course, totalling twelve hours of learning. All the content is evidence based, weaving together the latest baby brain development information with relational tools and strategies.
Collaboration with a wide range of individuals and agencies has enabled and strengthened the training programme. Action for Children continue to work closely with Exeter University (specifically the Relational Health Group and the Child and Young People’s Mental Health Research Collaboration) to enhance processes for identifying, recruiting, training, connecting and retaining community champions. In March 2020, Action for Children commissioned researchers at Exeter University to carry out a piece of work exploring the views and experiences of community champions in the first pilot of the programme, involving three towns/locations in Devon. This work was led by lead by Dr Jenny Lloyd and carried out by Dr Siobhan Mitchell.
The interview data provided a general consensus that Champions perceive the concept of ‘passing it on’ as something that has the potential to impact the behaviours of parents, carers and families in their community and thus enhance parent and child wellbeing. They felt that the model was a good way to harness parents as community assets. Furthermore, they saw themselves bridging the gap between parents and professionals, by offering reassurance and support in a safe space and by utilising the trust they had built with parents, to signpost them to an appropriate professional.