‘Investing early is the best thing to do’
By Dharmendra Kanani, England Director, Big Lottery Fund
As part of our work on early action, the Big Lottery Fund has supported two conferences in recent months – ‘The Wisdom of Prevention’, organised by the New Economics Foundation (nef) and ‘Primary Prevention – cheaper than cure, better outcomes for children’, organised by Wave Trust.
Prevention as a whole, and early years action for children specifically, is an important area for BIG. Our mission is to help people and communities most in need and as an intelligent funder, we’re committed to focusing our resources, people and connections towards stemming problems at source.
Statistics on child poverty, income and health in our society all point to the same stark truth – decades of well meaning effort have not done enough to prevent the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage within families, nor to help unlock the potential trapped within some sections of our society. Remedial services are not only costly in terms of wasted human potential, they are huge cost drain on our public services.
Engaged public services, community groups and businesses working together can turn that around if they are given time, encouragement and belief. A shared commitment to preventative action must be one of the central pillars for partnerships to coalesce around if a real impact for the current generation of children is to be made. Together, investing earlier in evidenced preventative approaches is not only the ‘right’ thing to do – it is the best thing to do.
One challenge of implementing preventive approaches is the need for partners and agencies to work collaboratively. We are interested in working with local partners – strategically and at scale – where we share the same goals of long-term change.
A key aspect of BIG’s strategic funding until 2015 will be to focus on a smaller number of long-term investments to address entrenched, costly social issues. We will start to make some announcements shortly, and begin conversations with many of you in the coming months. We have an appetite for making deep, targeted and radical investments. We will do this at the same time as maintaining our popular open grants programmes, Reaching Communities and Awards for All.
We are already helping set the pace through our UK-wide Improving Futures programme. 17 groundbreaking projects, each built around a Local Authorities and voluntary sector partnership, are already testing early intervention for families on the ‘cusp’ of acute need.
We also are a partner in the valuable work of the Early Action Task Force and I urge you to read their report – ‘The Triple Dividend’ if you haven’t yet done so.
Big Lottery Fund in England will increasingly stand as a champion for preventive approaches and as a catalyst for bringing national and local partnerships together. We will also be a significant funder of preventative activity in the coming years. But it is only in partnership with local leaders that – collectively – we can do this.
Watch video playlists from the nef and WAVE Trust conferences, supported by BIG.
WAVE Trust conference slides