A Better Start

A Better Start

Improving the life chances of children aged 0-3

A Better Start is a 10 year, £215 million National Lottery funded programme focused on promoting good early childhood development. The programme funds local partnerships in five areas across England to test new ways of making support and services for families stronger, so that children can have the best start in life.

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Aims & approach

Its aim

A Better Start aims to improve the life chances of babies and very young children by changing the way services are commissioned and delivered, involving parents as equal partners.

What it is

A Better Start is the ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Five A Better Start partnerships in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend-On-Sea are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Involving local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication.

A Better Start is place-based and aims to create approaches, relationships and services which better support people and communities to thrive.

Its outcomes

  1. Improving children’s diet and nutrition to support healthy physical development and protect against illness in later life.
  2. Supporting children to develop social and emotional skills so they can develop positive relationships and cope with difficult situations.
  3. Helping children develop their language and communication skills, so that they can engage with the world around them.
  4. Bring about ‘systems change’; that is to change, for the better, the way that local health, public services and the voluntary and community sector work together with parents to improve outcomes for children.


Evaluation and Research

Research and evidence from A Better Start about the Early Years and the programme's contribution to improved child outcomes is regularly published. Publications can be accessed in our Evidence library


Read updates from across the A Better Start programme sharing our experiences as we develop innovative ways to give babies and very young children the best possible start in life

You can read more in our collection of A Better Start publications



From 2015 to 2025, our five programme partnerships will design, implement, deliver and test ways to support babies and very young children and their families in their local community.

  • Blackpool Better Start

    Blackpool Better Start

    Blackpool Better Start’s strategy focuses on reducing critical pressures on families, like drugs and alcohol, mental ill health, domestic abuse and social isolation to build better parenting knowledge and skills. Visit website
  • Better Start Bradford

    Better Start Bradford

    A Better Start Bradford works with the community, public agencies and local academics to offer services and support - provided by trained volunteers and a skilled workforce - in people’s homes and in the community. Visit website
  • Lambeth Early Action Partnership

    Lambeth Early Action Partnership

    Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) delivers a range of services - co-designed with the community and local partners - for parents and early years professionals and practitioners, to support children, families and the wider community. The development of these services has been underpinned by a public health approach, meaning that they are supporting individual children and families as well as their wider environment. Visit website
  • Small Steps Big Changes

    Small Steps Big Changes

    Driven by local parents and communities, Small Steps Big Changes puts parents and communities at the centre of design, commissioning and decision-making services for children in Nottingham. Visit website
  • A Better Start Southend

    A Better Start Southend

    A Better Start Southend brings together professional and volunteer workers with parents and carers of children, up to the age of four, to transform the way that children’s services are delivered. Visit website

Volunteering Evidence

Volunteering Evidence review and toolkit can support A Better Start partnerships and other organisations with the development of volunteer and peer support programmes.

Big Little Moments – Free downloadable toolkit

Following the success of Big Little Moments the Fund have made all of the resources freely available to anyone wishing to replicate the campaign. The resources share the background to the campaign, how this was developed and executed to encourage more positive caregiving interactions that improve babies early brain development. The digital campaign ran for 12 months and created over 13 million digital impressions amongst caregivers. The free resources include:

A full evaluation of the campaign was conducted and the summary findings and recommendations can be accessed here.

A Better Start National Evaluation

NatCen are currently undertaking an evaluation of the A Better Start programme. NatCen are looking at if, and how, A Better Start has improved children’s lives and finding out about families’ experiences of the programme.

Read the Privacy Notice for this evaluation

For further information about the programme contact: abetterstart@tnlcommunityfund.org.uk