What makes the best start in life for children in Tower Hamlets?

The ActEarly Community Research team, based at the Bromley by Bow Centre, spent six months between June-December 2020 investigating “what makes the best start in life for children in Tower Hamlets?”. This work is aimed at residents, local organisations, local stakeholders and academics alike and is intended to inform the ActEarly consortium’s research, catalyse co-production and inspire new understandings of families’ lives.

Here is an interim report of findings which were developed during a pandemic, and ultimately reflect both the unusual context of this research and the timeless role parents play in raising happy and healthy children.

Three big questions: challenges, dreams and changes

The research was posed as three big questions, designed to understand the “best start in life” from three different lenses:

What challenges do families face to health and happiness?

What dreams do families have for the “best start in life”

What changes do they want to see for a happier and healthier Tower Hamlets?

Similar challenges were identified in the present and for the future, but with different emphases. The concerns families have for the future are broader than their immediate concerns and involve financial concerns, children’s activities and mental health support.

Families were asked to dream about health and happiness – in their own lives and in an ideal world – to encourage un-bounded thinking. In one participatory activity, when children built a “Best Start Village”, they drew the nature they saw around them and they built many play spaces. The “top tips” we collected for a happy and healthy family life are often practical, free, regular ideas to incorporate into day-to-day life, and are largely restricted to activities in the home and the park.

Finally, the changes for a happier and healthier Tower Hamlets are also dominated by a desire for more activities for children. An improved outdoor environment is the second interest, whilst healthy eating ideas are popular and ranged from education to reshaping food provision.

Final report

In March 2021, the final report of this research will include analysis from 18 in-depth interviews exploring the questions identified in each theme, collaborative recommendations and reflections from sharing the research findings.

Get in touch if you are interested in exploring how these findings could support your organisation.

Look out for future KSE events where we share this research further in March!

Download the interim report to learn more about the research here:

What Makes the Best Start In Life Interim Report 010121