Charity aims to give under fives an equal chance in life

A Wirral-based charity which aims to ensure all children start school on an equal footing has delivered 2,215 activity packs to under-fives during Covid-19.

The Foundation Years Trust has been working with families in Wirral since 2014, focusing on the critical years from birth to the first days of primary school.

The first five years of a child’s life are acknowledged as being crucial to their physiological, cognitive and emotional development.

The Steve Morgan Foundation awarded the charity £3,360 to help fund and deliver 2,215 activity packs during lockdown.

Anna-Louise Van Der Merwe, director of the Foundation Years Trust, said: “We work with the parents of children aged between 0 and five years old to help them understand how they can support their child’s early learning and development through everyday interaction and play.

“All parents want the best for their children but we know that statistically children from poorer backgrounds can already be behind in their developmental learning by the time they start school.

“Children who don’t meet their expected levels of development at age five frequently continue on this trajectory throughout their schooling and don’t fulfil their potential. We also know that the children of parents who provide a really good learning environment at home counteract this trend.

“Many parents haven’t experienced this themselves as children, and are just not aware of the huge influence positive everyday interaction can have on their child’s development. Research suggests about 80 per cent of what children learn is outside the school gates.

Covid-19 put a halt to the Foundation Years Trust’s face-to-face group work, so they focused their efforts online and on creating the activity packs.

Anna-Louise explained: “The packs have provided families with ideas and play activities to help families cope during lockdown. Each pack contained a booklet explaining how the play activity helps children’s development, along with fun resources and a new book.

“This was an incredibly difficult time for both the children and parents as their normal routine was impacted. We wanted to ensure that we reached as many 0-five-year-olds as possible with our activity packs. 

“Parents have been put into the position over the last few months of having to be the main provider of learning experiences for their children. The lockdown presented a unique opportunity to support parents in their role as their child’s most important educator and to help them realise that playing, chatting and reading in the first five years are the most effective way of encouraging development. We will build on this experience moving forward and celebrate what our parents in Wirral have achieved over the last few months.

“The activity packs were a fantastic way to help support some of our parents during lockdown. The support from the Steve Morgan Foundation has been crucial and we’re very grateful.”

One of the families that received an activity pack wrote:  “You are all angels and the work you are all doing is amazing. Our family is shielding, these packs are a lifeline.”

Jane Harris, director of regional fundraising, said: “Giving young children an even chance in life is one of the most important things we can do. The Foundation Years Trust has been working with families in Wirral since 2014 and we’re delighted to support them.”

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