A group of parents who use voluntary sector services for families of early years children were supported to make a short film about what made a difference for them and their children. The film was made at Stepping Forward a Sure Start centre in Penicuik.
The idea for the video came from conversations that Susan Deacon had with groups of parents in Mid & East Lothian as part of her evidence gathering for her report to the Education Minister. A previous post ‘Conversations with Susan’ described the content and impact of the discussion she had with parents. Parents were supported by the Media Co-op to make the video. Many thanks to Shelley for uploading the video to YouTube (I still haven’t mastered that)
We will use the video as part of Support from the Start ‘civic conversation’ about health and the early years. Its first public viewing will be to East Lothian councillors.
Hopefully this will be the first of many blogs describing the developments of a practical example of the social marketing approach with First Step, a community based early years project in Musselburgh
What is Social Marketing? In a nutshell “social marketing is an approach used to achieve and sustain behaviour goals on a range of social issues”. It is based on marketing concepts and techniques but applies these for a “social good or purpose” rather than the sales and profit goals of commercial marketing.
Social marketing is not a theory itself but draws on familiar disciplines such as health promotion, community development, sociology etc and offers a logical planning process to help achieve behaviour change
Social Marketing presentation to First Step staff in March
Steering group set up to oversee developments. This group will be reporting into the Support from the Start Planning Board. The steering group is chaired by myself and has membership from Health Visiting, Community Learning and Development, First Step, CHP Health Improvement Team and ELC Early Years and Childcare.
Initial scoping started with parents and carers that attend First Step
3-day Social Marketing training attended by two steering group members
Representatives from West Dunbartonshire Equally Well test site invited to the Steering Group to discuss their social marketing approach with tobacco use
To support First Step users identify their priority health behaviour issues
On the 19th July Scotland’s new permanent secretary Sir Peter Housden, accompanied by Dr Harry Burns, visited First Step in Musselburgh to speak to a range of people involved in using or providing early years services.
After a tour of First Steps facilities staff, volunteers and services users took part in a discussion facilitated by Susan Deacon about some of the challenges to, as well as the supports for, early years in East and Midlothian.
Many issues were brought up in the short period that was available for discussion - but what heartened me was the tremendous positive energy there was in the room ( no doubt contributed to by the wonderful home baking provided by First Step) This energy and enthusiasm for what a difference early intervention can make was there despite the awareness of the challenges faced by parents and children in some of our communities, and of the funding issues faced by statutory and voluntary services.
The other issue that chimed for me was the importance of services not stigmatising their users and the importance of the community seeing a service that is something anyone can access when the need is there. I was reminded of a rather ugly phrase use by Sir Micheal Marmott – ‘proportionate universalism’ – services that are universal but provided in proportion to the need. The universalism of a service prevents it from being stigmatised, but it makes no sense to provide universal services equally, because need is not distributed equally. First Step is respected within its community because of the hard work and dedication of its staff – but also, I think, because it has that element of a universal service with additional support built in to address more complex or enhanced need.