Study visit to Scotland
Services for families aimed at support for the early childhood

In the middle of summer the team of Tulip Foundation organised a study visit to Scotland for a group of colleagues from civil organisations and governmental institutions. This was our contribution to a project for the improvement of maternal and children’s health among vulnerable communities in Bulgaria, realised by HESED, Znanie association and Future for Children Association. The colleagues were interested in the functioning of a national programme for healthy food for children from a very early age – from birth to 3 years of age. Our partners from Scotland reacted positively on the request and set up a busy and intersting agenda for the group from Bulgaria. The study visit started in early August in Edinburgh with a visit to Dr Bell’s Family Centre. Danielle Campbell and her team told us about the various activities with mothers, fathers and other members of the family.

On the next day we visited the Citadel Youth and Family Centre. Marion Macleod, researcher, presented the overall picture of services for the first years of children and support for families with children in Scotland. Willy Barr, manager of the family centre, told us about the history of the centre, the activities with young people which following their needs have naturally transformed into work with young mothers and parents and their children in the community. And the work with young people continues until today. In the afternoon we had a meeting at the office of Relationships Scotland. Clare Simpson, director of Parenting across Scotland, and Cheryl Brown, director of Midlothian Sure Start centre, presented the Open Kindergarten model, adapting existing provision to develop a holistic and inclusive service. Sue Palmer, chair of the Upstart Scotland campaign spoke about the development of the early years’ curriculum and the importance self-directed play.

On the third day the group of Bulgarian experts had meetings at the Government of Scotland. Nicola Birrell и Ben Sutcliffe, Senior policy officers, Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, presented the principles and the structure of the programme. A lively discussion with questions, answers and comments followed. In the afternoon we had a meeting with Kirsty Craig, Jeni Milne и Brendan McGinty at the Social Security Scotland. They presented in details the functioning of the programmes for healthy feeding in early childhood in practice and the arrangements for access of parents and families.

In a few days we learned a lot and most importantly that the support for children in early age is support for their parents and families. And this support is only effective if based on mutual trust.

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