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Public health minister Tessa Jowell and education secretary David Blunkett today pledged to help 60 areas of the co...
Public health minister Tessa Jowell and education secretary David Blunkett today pledged to help 60 areas of the country to pioneer Sure Start programmes. These will be a vital element in the government's work to increase opportunity and create equal chances for young children and their families in disadvantaged areas.

Sixty disadvantaged areas of the country have been identified as trailblazer districts and have been asked to work with all local partners to develop programmes which can meet the key values and aims of the Sure Start strategy. These areas will be the first of 250 programmes to be established over three years from a budget of£452m.

Speaking at a Gingerbread conference in London today, Ms Jowell said:

'Today David Blunkett and I can announce the 60 areas up and down the country which will lead the way. These areas have been asked to put forward their proposals for local Sure Start programmes in March. I look forward to seeing their ideas. Within a few months our£452m Sure Start strategy will be making a real difference in communities throughout England. In the years ahead, children who are healthier and more ready to learn, stronger families and communities, less crime and fewer school age pregnancies will benefit us all.

'The trailblazer programmes are only the first step in implementing Sure Start. We plan at least 250 local programmes by the end of the parliament, and trailblazers will have an important role in setting the standard for those which follow. They will work with later programmes as Sure Start is rolled out across the country, helping them learn from what works and build on best practice and existing expertise.'

Mr Blunkett said:

'Today is just the beginning of a new era of support for parents and families. Sure Start will bring together early education, health services, family support and advice on nurturing for families when they need it most. It will enhance the life chances of children by ensuring that they are ready to learn and to thrive when they start school.

'Sure Start programmes will make a difference to parents and children from the beginning of a child's life. Parents will be offered advice and information on child development, on reading with their children,

on learning through play and on healthy living. Sure Start programmes will bring together childcare, health services and social services. We hope that Sure Start will help parents in the hardest task of all - bringing up children.'

Sure Start will offer:

a home visit for each family with newborn children, to provide details of what services and support are available;

local services, including health, education and childcare, working together in the interests of families and children;

better access to a range of early support, including childcare, toddler groups and toy libraries;

better physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of children, through more supportive services for families, including better access to health services and educational programmes.

The deputy prime minister, John Prescott said:

'Investment in services for young children and their families in deprived areas is an essential element in our efforts to tackle

social exclusion and promote regeneration. I warmly welcome this interdepartmental initiative which fits well with other measures we have introduced on health, education, housing, regeneration and crime to improve the quality of life for local communities in areas of need.'


1. Guidance for trailblazers was published today. It has been sent to key players across the country. Expressions of interest from the 60 districts are invited by 9 February and trailblazer areas have been asked to submit their applications by 19 March. Decisions will be taken on them in April 1999 and local Sure Start programmes will be established later in the year. Further districts will be announced in due course.

2. Each district will identify one catchment area and encourage local partners to come together and develop their ideas for action within it. Trailblazers will not be in competition with each other. Applications will need to meet certain standards and show partners from different sectors working together with the local community to meet the needs of families and children. The Sure Start Unit will be

providing expert advisers to ensure partnerships are inclusive and help them make proposals which meet the Sure Start key principles and deliver coherent services which work for local people.

3. The 60 trailblazer areas are:

Barrow-in Furness Hastings Penwith

Birmingham Kingston-upon-Hull Plymouth

Blackburn with Darwen Kirklees Redcar and Cleveland

Blackpool Knowsley Rotherham

Bradford Lambeth Salford

Brent Leeds Sandwell

Brighton and Hove Leicester Sedgemoor

Bristol Liverpool Sheffield

Camden Luton Southampton

Copeland Manchester Southwark

Corby Mansfield St Helens

Derby Middlesborough Stoke-on-Trent

Doncaster Newcastle Sunderland

Enfield Newham Telford and Wrekin

Fenland North East Lincolnshire Thanet

Great Yarmouth North Tyneside Thurrock

Greenwich Norwich Tower Hamlets

Hackney Nottingham Waltham Forest

Halton Oldham Wealden

Haringey Oxford Wolverhampton

4. Copies of the guidance are available from Government Offices for the Regions and NHS Regional Offices; regional contact numbers are available by telephoning: 0171 273 5389.

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