Skip to main content

A Better Start Southend


£40m from The Big Lottery has been invested in A Better Start Southend to help develop new and improved Children’s Services for Southend. The initiative is part of a ten-year research and development programme working in partnership with parents, carers, and professionals to create and improve services focusing on families with children under four years-old.
A Better Start Southend is a partnership of organisations who want to give local children the best possible start in life, using new ways of thinking to provide preventative support at an early age. At the start we are focusing on families in six local wards – Westborough, Victoria, Milton, Kursaal, West Shoebury and Shoeburyness.
We’re aiming to make a difference in three areas of children’s lives:

Communication and Language
We want all children to be able to use speech and language skills confidently so that they are ready to learn and able to succeed when they start school.

Social and Emotional Development
We want Southend’s children to enjoy good relationships with the people around them, to grow up in loving families and to develop the skills that will help them make stable relationships in future.

Diet and Nutrition
We want all of our children to be healthy because their mums enjoyed a balanced diet during pregnancy and carried on to give them a healthy start in their early years.

There’s lots of evidence to show that involving people in designing the services they use makes services better. With parents and carers working alongside paid staff and volunteers, we will be testing ideas in practice, then applying the lessons learned: sharing good experiences, and bad, as a way of improving the system as a whole.

Service Information

The Communication and Language Team are made up of Speech and Language Therapists and Speech and Language Therapy Assistants, who are developing and testing preventative programmes in the local community.

The team run FREE courses for families with children of various ages to support and encourage Speech and Language development, even from as young as 6 months. We also run training courses and workshops for parents online to help them support their children’s communication and language difficulties at home. We have developed, alongside our Specialist Teacher colleagues, some key milestones of communication and language development from conception to age 4 year. We have 10 Top Tips and activities for different age groups under the four headings/straplines ‘Play as you Grow’, ‘Sing as you Grow’, ‘Read as you Grow’ and ‘Chat as you Grow’ which can all be found on the A Better Start Southend website.

The Let’s Talk team run FREE courses for families with children of various ages to support and encourage Speech and Language development.

Babbling Babies Workshop 3-12 months
Babbling Babies is a free and fun workshop for mums, dads, carers and their babies aged between about 3 -12 months. The workshop will focus on different aspects of a your baby’s communication development, for example making eye contact and playing together in a fun, sensory way. Handy hints and activities that can be used at home will be provided.

Under 1’s check
We are currently piloting an Under 1’s check with our Health Visiting colleagues. At your statutory Health Visiting check, you will be offered a short screen of your little one’s developing communication. You will be given a small bag of resources to encourage you to play and talk to your baby. You will also be given details of our Babbling Babies Workshop and Talking Tiddlers sessions and contact details.

Talking Tiddlers (12-18months)
Talking Tiddlers is an exciting, free, three week course for mums, dads, carers and their children aged between 12 – 18 months. Each week will focus on a different aspect of communication development, for example listening, turn-taking, reading and talking together. Handy hints and activities for you to use at home will be provided.

23 month check
If you live within one of the six ABSS wards you will be offered a free speech & language development check run by the Let’s Talk team at A Better Start Southend when your child is approaching their 2nd birthday. This is similar to the Under 1s check but for your 23 month old. Look out for your invitation that will arrive by text.

Talking Walk in
If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, you can call the team and arrange to see one of our Speech and Language Therapists at a ‘Talking Walk-in’ drop in session. During this session a Speech and Language Therapist will have a discussion with you about your concerns and observe your child and then you will together decide on the most appropriate next steps for your little one which may be any one of the following:

Talking Toddlers (18-24months and 24-36 months)
Talking Toddlers is a free, fun and interactive three week course for mums, dads, carers and their children aged between 18 – 24 months and 24-36 months. Each week will focus on different aspects of a child’s language development, including, how to develop attention and listening skills, understanding language and learning new words. As a result of parent feedback we have divided the course into two different age groups. Each course will focus on the same areas but will be pitched at slightly different levels using different activities and resources. Handy hints and activities that can be used at home will be provided for both courses.

Chatting Children (36- 47 months)
Chatting Children is a free, three week course for mums, dads, carers and their children aged between 36 and 47 months. Children and adults will attend the groups together, which will be run by a Speech & Language Therapist and Assistant. It will be fun, interactive and will provide lots of ideas on how to encourage and develops children’s language skills.

New!! Super Sounds Workshop
An online one-off workshop which covers typical speech sound development and offers plenty of advice, support and activities for helping children learn to use speech sounds.

Attention ABS
Attention ABS is based on an intervention model designed by Gina Davies, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. The 3 sessions are a fun-filled interactive way of supporting your child’s attention, language and social communication. The Attention ABS course progresses through a series of four stages, building on each skill level.

New!! Parent Training
A 3 week online course for parents, lasting 30 – 40 mins which covers our ‘Top Tips for Tip Top Talking’

For information about any of these courses please email:

Referral Information

Anyone can refer.

Get help?