The Welsh Government initiative Flying Start, aimed at giving children aged 0 to 3 the best start in life celebrated its 10th anniversary in Monmouthshire with a conference for professionals and practitioners at Monmouth’s Shire Hall. The conference named My Journey before School gave an insight to the work that Flying Start practitioners provide and the impact the programme has had on families in Monmouthshire.

The event provided an opportunity to showcase the outstanding programme that Monmouthshire Flying Start staff deliver to help so many families in Abergavenny, Overmonnow in Monmouth, Caldicot and Chepstow.  Beth Watkins and Angela Lewis, managers of the Monmouthshire Flying Start programme invited the Flying Start team, a range of professionals from health visitors, nurses, head teachers and elected members to the event to deliver heartfelt thanks to them for their hard work and support.

Attendees heard from mum of seven, Shelly.  Shelly spoke of the lifechanging help and support she received from her local Flying Start Team and the many groups that she and her children have accessed. Flying Start staff also provided vital emotional and practical support, and most importantly signposted her to local organisations which led her to make crucial decisions that helped save her life.

Flying Start Staff and specialist health professionals Dr Aideen Naughton, Specialist Health Visitor Jenni Davies and Julie Wallace from the Flying Start Child and Psychotherapy Team who offer invaluable support for families across Monmouthshire provided presentations to highlight their work. Dr Aideen Naughton of Public Health Wales talked of her ongoing work looking at Adverse Childhood Experience and the impact that negative experiences and the life choices parents make before birth can have on a child. Adverse Childhood Experiences can lead to many things which can affect the child in later life.

The Flying Start programme works with families to lead healthier lives which hopefully have a domino effect on their children and future generations.  Flying Start also provides valuable information to families, signposting to the many local and national organisations which help with some of the issues that arise.

Flying Start Manager Beth Watkins said: ‘We felt that after ten years of providing support to families, it was time for a celebration and an opportunity to thank our staff. The day provided an opportunity to showcase to local elected members, head teachers and health visitors and community nurses the work our teams have done in Monmouthshire to help and support so many babies, toddlers and families since 2006.’

Liz Hacket Pain, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: ‘It was wonderful to be invited to celebrate ten years of Flying Start in Monmouthshire. It was so good to hear from our Flying Start practitioners who have helped so many of our children to have the best start in life.’

For more information on Flying Start and how to access the programme contact 01873 856162 or email flyingstart@monmouthshire.gov.uk