Liberal Democrat Leader and Shaw representative councillor Howard Sykes MBE has called on Greater Manchester leaders to adopt a new support strategy for new-born babies across the city region.
The ‘baby box’ was trialled in Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Trust in 2018 but councillor Sykes says it should be put into place across the whole of Greater Manchester.
Councillor Sykes said, “The early years are so crucial and new parents feel the stress of trying to provide the best possible start for their children. We know that child poverty is on the rise in Britain, and it’s made worse by the cost-of-living crisis.”
Across England, one in every three babies are born into poverty. However, in Oldham, rates of infant poverty are even higher – closer to four in ten babies.
“We must give families the support they need at the start, so that children in Oldham can thrive. Greater Manchester should follow Scotland and other European examples and introduce the ‘Baby Box’ for all new-borns.”
The Baby Box – popularised in Finland and now adopted as policy in Scotland – is a hamper that is provided to all expectant (your midwife fills in a form at 24 weeks, and you receive your baby box four weeks before your due date) mothers, free of charge. It contains clothes, nappies, blankets and even an under-arm thermometer for taking temperatures. The hamper itself can be quilted and used as a cot.
Councillor Sykes said, “It’s no wonder that Finland has less child mortality and less children living in poverty than the UK. Clearly Greater Manchester should follow Finland’s and the trials example and launch a similar scheme across our region. A little effort in those early stages of life could make a world of difference for thousands of children.”