The latest statistics show that, on average, our children have a lower life expectancy and worse health that other youngsters in many parts of the country – around 32,000 more children live in poverty across the region when compared to the national average.
A third of our children are not ready for school when they start primary education – meaning they don’t have the basic language and social skills to learn. As a result, many will fall behind their classmates and in some cases may never catch up.
Clearly this needs to change and if we are going to make a difference we need to tackle all the factors that can stifle a child’s development early in their life and help them to be healthy and emotionally strong as they grow up.
We want to see every child grow up in an environment that nurtures their development, where they feel safe and secure, where they have easy access to high quality services, where they believe in their abilities and can achieve their expectations.
Thanks to the devolution of the £6 billion health and social care budget to Greater Manchester we have the chance to change the way children, young people and families are supported.
So in 2018, a whole host of people came together to develop a five year plan. This plan is known as the Children and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Framework.
The plan was created with the involvement of children and young people, families and carers as well as health professionals, academics, schools and representatives from the voluntary, youth justice and social enterprise sector. Our shared goal is to see Greater Manchester become one of the ‘best places to be born and grow up in’ – we want to see all our children having the very best chances in life no matter what their circumstances.
So we have taken a brave leap to seize this opportunity to work together. We want our children and young people to experience good physical and mental health and wellbeing and we want to encourage them, right from infancy, to look after their teeth, eat a balanced diet and exercise.
By working together with a wider range of partners, we want to ensure that housing is of a high standard, that there is access to green spaces, that schools and colleges can meet the needs of their pupils, that social care is designed in a way that can best effect change and that parents and carers have good and stable employment.
No single organisation can do all this on their own, which is why I’m proud that here in Greater Manchester we’ve embraced an integrated joined up way of working – coming together to share expertise and experience in order to give every child the best possible start in life and through their growing up years.