Case study – NESTA

Transforming the lives of children and communities – supporting first time parents

In 2010 OnePlusOne were invited by NESTA and the Innovation Unit to explore ways of transforming services for families in the early years to be different, better and lower cost. Working with Parents 1st, a social enterprise, we designed a prototype for a relationship-based support service to meet the needs of first-time parents – a key time when couple relationships are fragile and families may need lots of help.

Street crime, vandalism and hostility place extra pressure on many families in West Basildon. We found that people from the most deprived areas were not accessing existing council-run support services, and funds were being spent on crisis intervention rather than preventing problems.

The team knew that there were existing skills within the community to address everyday issues. We designed a model where local parents trained as peer-supporters worked with families from pregnancy until their babies were three months old. Peer-supporters who families trust build and model positive relationships, helping families to be more resilient and better equipped to cope, right from the beginning.

We’re trialling this new approach in six pilot sites in England. We aim to develop hubs that are owned and run by local families. Community representatives, not the council, will decide what services are on offer, and work with professionals such as GPs and Health Visitors to ensure consistent approaches.

Early indicators suggest the model could make a radical change to local communities, and generate significant savings. It’s estimated by NESTA17 that a service in Basildon built on the prototype:

  • would cost 21% less
  • each up to 35% more families
  • by year 2, reduce the costs for supporting each family by 55%