Dr Patricia Lucas and Dr Jo Williams, Directors of the Bristol Network for Equality in Early Years Health and Wellbeing (BoNEE), look back on the team's highlights for 2016-17.
The Bristol Network for Equality in Early Years Health and Wellbeing (BoNEE) aims to tackle the health inequalities resulting from poverty and disadvantage that have a profound impact on the health, wellbeing and life-chances of children in Bristol.
We will achieve this by working together to gather the best evidence and implement the best solutions, responding to the priorities of health providers, policy makers and the people of Bristol.
Childhood poverty is widespread in Bristol. Almost 1 in 4 children under 16 are in low income families. That means 18,900 children in Bristol living in poverty. The national average in 2014 was 1 in 5. The highest levels of economic deprivation in Bristol affect children in Lawrence Hill, Filwood and Hartcliffe & Withywood .
This year we reviewed our strategy and focussed our work on progressing our social and emotional wellbeing and oral health goals. We continued our efforts to engage and involve parents and the public.
In social emotional wellbeing, we completed our systematic review for enhanced support for early years development. We presented our findings to our policy colleagues and at the Lancet Public Health conference. Our next aim is to identify innovative practice we can pilot in the Bristol area.
We continue to work towards the delivery of the integrated two-year check, carried out by health visitors and early years staff.
Members of BoNEE have submitted an ESRC grant application about every-day language. It aims to understand differences in how language is used in households across different cultures. This will inform interventions to support early language development. We have also been included in an MRC grant application to review evidence about how to intervene to improve children’s positive mental health.
Our oral health work has been presented internationally to researchers and policy makers in Australia. We have produced and fed back our findings to Bristol parents using postcards designed by a local illustrator specialising in health information.
In November, we met with parents from the Bristol Parent Carers Forum to ask them about the oral health needs of children with special needs. We have shared our findings with commissioners in Bristol City Council and the Primary Care Dental Service (PCDS). This has already contributed to a redesign of the PCDS website to improve accessibility for families.
We have led an NIHR grant application to review the evidence to support early dental checks, building on the findings of our previous work. In the coming year we will pilot and evaluate supervised tooth brushing in early years settings in the city. This is part of the implementation of the West of England Oral Health Strategy.
In Healthy City Week 2016, we ran a stall in Barton Hill asking parents to tell us whether our BoNEE goals were on track or missing the mark. Parents were most positive about work to support child development and language progress, particularly for children for whom English is a second language.
They were more positive about healthy eating than healthy weight goals, and a weight focus generated some negative comments. We will incorporate this feedback in our review of our early weight and nutrition work stream.