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Our Work in Manchester

Manchester is a cultural powerhouse, known the world over for its musical exports and two football clubs, but it’s also one of the most deprived local authorities in England. Data from the DWP and HMRC show 32.5% of children in the city were living in relative poverty, defined as living in a household with an income below 60% of the median. The wards with the highest levels of children living in relative poverty are Cheetham at 51.2% and Longsight, just south of the city centre, at 47.1%.

That’s why, since 2022, we have been developing partnerships with local organisations in Longsight to hear from families and build on the community’s strengths. This led to us, alongside local organisations, establishing the Longsight Early Years Partnership to bring together the knowledge of local families and early years practitioners.

Our Aims

We aim to improve speech, language, and communication and social-emotional outcomes for children, aged 0 – 3, growing up in poverty in Manchester. We’re working to make the early years count by supporting families and providing opportunities for them to play and learn together with their children. 

Our Partners

We currently work with over 10 local partners including local parents, local authority service teams, primary schools, nurseries, children’s centres, health services, libraries and other local charities and organisations.

Families are important partners and at the heart of all that we do. We work hard to find ways to actively engage them in all aspects of our work. The Parent Play Champion Network meets monthly to discuss issues and opportunities that matters to them.

A mother and son at a stay and play session in Manchester, UK. (Credit: John Owens/Save the Children)

Our Co-Design Approach

We work with families to identify local issues and create solutions that meet their needs. Working with local partners, we held a series of exhibitions, activities, and workshops to enable us to understand some of the barriers to play and what we could do together to overcome them.

We provid opportunities for families and practitioners to take part in training, research, and co-design to drive forward the direction of our work. In 2022, we established a working group of practitioners and parent/carers to explore ways that we can encourage playful parent-child interactions and work together to strengthen the early years system around local families.

In 2023 we supported local organisations to pilot innovation projects to meet the needs identified by families during the co-design sessions that we ran the previous year. These will address gaps in parental voice and play skills. Our learnings will be shared, locally and nationally, as we strive to achieve better outcomes for children and families.

Giving Families a Voice

The Our Story project provided the opportunity for parents/carers to share their stories and have a voice. We used their stories to develop a shared understanding of bringing up 0–3-year-olds and learn from parents' perspectives. 

We supported and empowered parent/carers to participate at all levels; by providing different opportunities to get involved, learn new skills, increase their confidence and to support other parents/carers in their own progression. This included opportunities to shape Save the Children’s advocacy calls.

We held spaces to listen to local families and practitioners. During 2023 Manchester Baby Week we spoke to 197 families city-wide about their experiences of bringing up young children. We provided resources to the community by translating information and play tips into community languages. We also delivered family art sessions and gave away family art packs and ideas for use in the home. Over a thousand games and toys gifts in kind went directly to families through our partnerships, and Early Years Grants were used to support local families to take part in co-design.


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