Major Firms Commit to Action as Taskforce Report Identifies £45.5billion Opportunity For UK Economy From Investing in Early Childhood

  • Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood report highlights huge scale of opportunity for business to drive, and benefit from, prioritising early childhood in the workplace, community and wider society.
  • New initiatives announced, including funding for early years apprenticeships and leadership programmes, increased support for baby banks and creating welcoming spaces for families with young children.
  • Joint statement from eight founding CEOs calls on “businesses of all sizes, across the UK, to join us and help build a healthy, happy society for everyone.”

The Royal Foundation Business Taskforce for Early Childhood has today, Tuesday 21 May 2024, published a report setting out the business case for prioritising early childhood and announced the first tranche of action to be taken as a result of its work.

The Taskforce was established in March 2023 by The Princess of Wales to galvanise business action on early childhood. Since then, Taskforce members Aviva, The Co- operative Group, Deloitte, Iceland Foods, IKEA UK and Ireland, The LEGO Group, NatWest Group and Unilever UK, have worked together to identify the scale of the opportunity and the role that business can play.

Prioritising early childhood for a happier, healthier society has been produced by Deloitte on behalf of the Taskforce and sets out how a greater focus on early childhood would create a happier and more productive workforce today, and transform the health and wellbeing of the UK economy and society for generations to come.

It details how investing in early childhood could generate at least £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year. This includes £12.2bn from equipping people with improved social and emotional skills in early childhood, £16.1bn from reducing the need to spend public funds on remedial steps for adverse childhood experiences and £17.2bn from supporting parents and caregivers of under-fives who work.

Welcoming today’s report and the commitments from the businesses involved, Christian Guy, Executive Director of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood said:

“Today marks another milestone moment in our work to make early childhood a priority across society. Some of the most significant businesses in Britain have joined forces to deliver a major rallying call to their fellow business leaders to prioritise young children and those who care for them – for the good of our society and economy.

“Whether it is helping families access the support they need, prioritising the social and emotional well-being of children and the adults in their lives, or building a culture that prioritises early childhood, business has a significant part to play.

“There is such enormous potential. We urge all businesses, no matter what their shape or size, to join us – the eight founding members, the Centre for Early Childhood, and The Princess – to help transform the way our country supports the vital early years.”

There are already some businesses playing an active role in this area, but there is potential for the business community as a whole to do much more. The report identifies five areas in which businesses of all sizes can have the opportunity to make the greatest impact for children under five, the adults around them, the economy and wider society:

  • Building a culture that prioritises early childhood within businesses, local communities, and wider society.
  • Helping families facing the greatest challenges access the basic support and essentials they need.
  • Offering parents and carers greater support, resources, choice, and flexibility with their work.
  • Prioritising and nurturing social and emotional skills in young children and the adults in their lives.
  • Supporting initiatives which increase access to quality, affordable and reliable early childhood education and care.

The release of the report will be accompanied by a new business-focused area on The Centre for Early Childhood’s website containing practical information and resources.

Alongside the report, the Taskforce members have committed to taking action on the issue and several have announced new initiatives as part of the first tranche of action. These include The Co-operative Group creating a specific early childhood fund as part of its unique apprenticeship levy share scheme, and committing to raise £5 million over the next 5 years, creating more than 600 apprenticeships. Business Taskforce members, NatWest Group, Unilever UK, Ikea UK and Ireland, and Iceland Foods have joined The Co-op in sharing a combined £1million over the next 12 months.

Deloitte is focusing its ongoing investment in Teach First to include the early years sector for the first time, supporting 366 early years professionals in 2024; and NatWest Group is extending its lending target for the childcare sector to £100 million, launching an early years accreditation scheme to its staff and producing a financial toolkit for childcare providers to help them grow and succeed.

IKEA UK and Ireland is expanding its contribution of support, design expertise and products for babies and young children to six new locations across the UK to help families with young children experiencing the greatest disadvantage and The Co- operative group is supporting the Baby Bank Alliance by promoting its work to their 5- million member-owners.

The LEGO Group is donating 3,000 LEGO® Education Build Me “Emotions” sets, supported by training materials, to early years providers in the UK, helping children to explore emotions in a fun and engaging way. And Iceland Foods is providing learning, awareness and support in all 1,000 Iceland and The Food Warehouse stores by featuring emoji posters at a child friendly height – a practical tool to help customers with young children and to create a space of understanding and support in stores.

All members have committed to continuing to work with The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood and supporting Shaping Us, The Princess of Wales’ campaign to raise awareness about the vital importance of the first five years of life.

In a joint statement, leaders of the eight Taskforce members said:

“Last year, Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales brought us together. She asked us to think radically about our approach to early childhood and the golden opportunity it presents to transform the lives of children today, as well as their future life outcomes.

“Since then, our organisations have come together to share our knowledge and experience, as well as deepen our own understanding of the importance of early childhood development, to establish this comprehensive and compelling business case for change.

“If we get this right, the results for business, for the economy and for society are clear for all to see: a happier, more productive workforce today; a future workforce equipped with the skills needed to deal with all the complexity and challenges of the modern world, and £45.5 billion in value added for the national economy each year.

“As leaders of some of the UK’s largest businesses, we have a responsibility, but also a very clear vested interest in driving change in this area. We hope this report will encourage businesses of all sizes, across the UK, to join us and help build a healthy, happy society for everyone.”

Throughout the rest of this year, The Centre for Early Childhood and Taskforce members will be speaking to business leaders across the UK to encourage businesses,

large and small, to join this movement. More information about how to get involved can be found on The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood website.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor to Invest £2.2 Million to Guarantee Beds for Babies – a Safe Space to Sleep for Every Child Aged 0-5

Today, South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard has announced £2.2 million of funding over four years into the Beds for Babies: Safe Space to Sleep Programme, which guarantees a safe place to sleep for all 0–5-year-olds. Beds for Babies will provide a moses basket, cot, cotbed or toddler bed to any under-5 who needs it following referral by an appropriate organisation or statutory agency. The Mayor launched the initiative at Meadows Nursery in Sheffield alongside a range of partners during Safe Spaces to Sleep Week.

South Yorkshire sees some of the starkest health inequalities in the UK, with 1 in 9 newborns in Sheffield alone requiring a safe place to sleep last year. The programme will tackle child poverty levels, reduce pressure on public services, improve childhood development, and reduce infant mortality.

The Beds for Babies programme is part of the Mayor’s overarching health strategy for South Yorkshire, with one of the region’s bold ambitions focused on early-years development. The Mayor is the only Metro Mayor in the country who chairs his region’s Integrated Care Partnership, and his stated priority is to make South Yorkshire the healthiest region in the country.

The programme was developed by a range of partners working with the Mayor including the charity Baby Basics UK, Save the Children UK, Sheffield Hallam University, Ikea and many others. Beds for Babies aligns with existing local service delivery with Directors of Public Health and Directors of Children’s Services from South Yorkshire’s four councils – Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, the Integrated Care Partnership and NHS all supporting the initiative. The programme is designed to work through existing referral and delivery routes including pre-natal, post-natal and midwifery services, GPs, Family Hubs, Children’s Centres and existing local voluntary and community sector organisations.

Beds for Babies is subject to approval at a Mayoral Combined Authority Board (MCA) meeting on 12 March 2024. 

If approved by the MCA, as well as providing beds across the whole of South Yorkshire, the programme will also deliver a test and learn pilot in four areas: Goldthorpe, Mexborough, Swinton and Gleadless, to build an evidence base of what works at community level and develop best practice. This will include provision of beds, cots and bedding, liaising with housing services and connecting families to access other services, and to deliver trust and stronger working relationships between statutory and non-statutory organisations. 

The programme will be evaluated and will test a different way of working at community level and delivering improved health outcomes for children in South Yorkshire including reducing bed poverty, infant mortality and referrals to statutory agencies for support.

This work was developed through participation in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a program of the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University. The initiative is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Bloomberg Philanthropies to equip mayors and senior city leaders with tools and expertise to expand problem-solving capacity, strengthen city halls, and improve outcomes for residents.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said: “Having a safe space to sleep is one of the fundamentals of early childhood. It’s a disgrace that bed poverty exists in the twenty-first century with 1 in 9 newborns leaving hospital in Sheffield needing help with a safe place to sleep at home.

“Devastating funding cuts to our local authorities and a cost-of-living crisis means that we all need to work together to help the most vulnerable in our society. By guaranteeing families who need it access a safe bed, crib, cot or moses basket, we can make a huge difference to education, health and social outcomes later in life as well as reducing the real-life financial pressures facing many families in South Yorkshire right now.

“Alongside our partners, we are determined to make South Yorkshire the healthiest region in the country. It is a challenge, but by introducing programmes like Beds for Babies, we are building the foundation for the next generation of South Yorkshire’s children so they are guaranteed the same opportunity to develop into the best they can be.

“This isn’t just about ‘health’ – it’s about what this means for the future of South Yorkshire. It’s about our community looking after each other and laying the foundations for a thriving economy in South Yorkshire. With growth at the centre of our overarching mission, we must ensure that the sustainable vehicles are in place which allow our economy to thrive, decades into the future.”

Professor Sally Pearse, Director of the Early Years Community Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We are pleased to be part of this initiative that will support families across South Yorkshire and help to address some of the health inequalities that blight too many lives. 

“Research shows that good quality, safe sleep is vital for healthy child development so this initiative is also supporting children’s long-term health and giving them a better start in life. 

“Parents in many of our communities are struggling with multiple challenges. If we can meet an immediate need such as the lack of a safe space for their child to sleep, we start to build trust and create a relationship that enables us to offer further support and help families tackle other challenges they’re facing.” 

Cat Ross, Chief Executive of Baby Basics UK, said: “Baby Basics UK was set up in Sheffield 15 years ago and we are thrilled that with our baby bank partners across the region we can be part of this monumental initiative to ensure that every child 0-5 years in the region has a safe space to sleep by supporting the provision of a physical bed. For us, the opportunity for additional investment in our work is a dream come true and we hope that South Yorkshire will not be the only region in the UK to initiate such a lifeline programme for families.”

Leanna Clark, Senior Innovation and Projects Officer at Save the Children UK, added: “Save the Children UK have been working in partnership with Meadows Nursery in Sheffield for many years through the work of the Early Learning Community. The partnership aims to improve outcomes for children in the local area by helping families and children to achieve their full potential through research and innovation in the early years. By making sure that families have a safe space and a trusted adult within their community. The Sheffield Early Learning Community has noticed an improvement in mental health and confidence among children and parents since implementation. 

“Many of the families we are working alongside face multiple challenges, so having additional funding through the ‘beds for babies’ safe space to sleep programme will contribute to the reduction of child poverty in Sheffield. Save the Children’s mission in the UK is to support children to live free from poverty and keep learning and developing.

“I have seen first-hand what it means to families when they receive items such as moses baskets and cots. It is one financial cost that they don’t need to worry about, and it provides families comfort knowing their child will sleep safe as they grow and thrive.”

Professor Jorrit de Jong, Director of the Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, said: “City leaders are critical in tackling major societal challenges, such as improving equitable health outcomes. These issues require collaboration between multiple organisations and government entities. Mayors can help forge that. Mayor Oliver Coppard’s leadership and the collaborative efforts of the South Yorkshire team are building toward progress for the people of their region. Their collaborative effort will serve as an example for other cities looking to improve health outcomes for their residents.”

Celebrating 15 Years of Baby Basics

Celebrate 15 years of Baby Basics with us at our Glam Gala on 21st June 2024, held at the wonderful Tapton Hall in Sheffield!

Join us for an unforgettable evening filled with elegance and excitement. A red carpet welcome awaits for an evening of glitz and glamour, with a three course meal, live auction and dancing – all in support of our ongoing mission.

Hosted by the amazing Rev. Kate Bottley and sponsored by the wonderful Centrica Business Solutions, this Gala promises to be an evening to remember.

Secure your tickets and find out more information by clicking here. Let’s make this milestone celebration one to cherish!

2023 – a Year in Review

What an incredible year 2023 has been. We are so thankful for all the amazing support we have received this year and always grateful that we are able to help so many people across the UK who need support.

January – saw amazing donations from Silver Cross &, support from Tots Play & the honour of attending the launch of #ShapingUs.

February – our CEO Cat, went to NYC as part of Bloomberg/Harvard City Leaders Intiative to work on a project focusing on improving health inequalities in the early years in S Yorks, & we attended the fantastic Sanctuary Foundation War & Hospitality Conference at Oxford Uni.

March – we celebrated International Women’s Day & joined in The Lullaby Trust Safer Sleep Week, attended the House of Lords for Sanctuary Foundation Wave of Compassion – Ukraine 1yr, supported by Lansinoh Family through the launch of their maternity pads & attended Cinnamon Network UK retreat & spoke to HELLO! about #ShapingUs.

April – we celebrated Easter, held our 1st National Conference with a key note from The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood & support from our patron Rev Kate Bottley, celebrated 10years of Baby Basics Northampton, welcomed Baby Basics Brighton & relaunched our support to Ukrainian resettling families.

May- celebrated our midwives, sent out 1000’s of corporate donations to centres, supported by the @kates_rangers donation drive, celebrated Coronation of King Charles III, joined in launch of Fabulous #babybankonus & revamped the warehouse with help of BetterYou Ltd.

June – said THANK YOU to our volunteers in #volunteersweek & with a garden party, celebrated Father’s Day, sent @kates_rangers donations to The Baby Bank, attended Sanctuary Foundation No Place Like Home #refugeeweek, spoke on ActionFunder Breaking the Mould & amazing support from Silver Cross & Haakaa.

July- chosen to benefit from Guards Polo Club Royal Polo Match by HRH The Princess of Wales, Baby Basics West Norfolk met HM King Charles lll Sandringham Flower Show, more support from Lil-Lets, Pigeon organics , Kokoso Baby & Kit & Kin
August – we celebrated Yorkshire Day, Baby Basics Northampton were finalists in the Northampton Business Awards, Ashley James visited Baby Basics Chelmsford with Fabulous, we welcomed Vale of Neath Baby Basics and launched our Did you know?
September – we welcomed Baby Basics Solihull, sent out 1000’s of corporate donations to our centres, spoke on The Power of Impact podcast, more support from Mamas & Papas UK & Haakaa, continued our Did you know?
October – we celebrated Elizabeth Morley receiving her MBE, sent out more corporate donations to our centres, made new corporate connections Harrogate International Nursery Fair, more support from Mamas & Papas UK & Bloom and Blossom, celebrated monthly vols from BetterYou & shared more Did you know?
November – welcomed Baby Basics Tenterden & Baby Basics – Eastbourne, attended #shapingus sypmposium, shared our work with Steph’s Packed Lunch, sent corporate donations to NIreland, support from Orchard Toys Ltd Rainbow Designs Ltd & welcomed Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood Christmas appeal.
DecemberCharlene White ITV News visited Baby Basics Sunbury with Fabulous, & shared about us on Loose Women, support from Mamas & Papas UK Haakaa Lansinoh UK Ardo Mums UK, Vale Baby Basics attended HRH The Princess of Wales’ #TogetheratChristmas, & Baby Basics West Norfolk invited to Sandringham for a drink reception with HM King Charles lll.

Kate Middleton Plays Royal Hostess at Her Third Christmas Carol Concert at Westminster Abbey

Our CEO, Cat, spoke to PEOPLE today about what Early Years focus of Together at Christmas today means to us and all those working so hard in the sector.

“Cat Ross, the CEO of Baby Basics, says the carol service will help give the country’s thanks to some of those who help support families and children throughout the year. At a time of rising living costs, Kate has been highlighting the work that baby banks and food banks can do to help support communities. And she is spearheading an appeal for kids’ clothing and food and gifts over the holiday season.

“This is the culmination of a lot of things that the Princess has led on this year,” Ross tells PEOPLE.”

Read the full article here

photo credit Westminster Abbey on X

Why the Princess of Wales’s latest initiative is so important and how you can help

Our CEO, Cat Ross, spoke to HELLO! about the continued support that HRH The Princess of Wales shows to the early years & the baby bank sector through her latest public ask.

“Baby Basics CEO Cat Ross tells HELLO! that the charity is “thrilled that HRH The Princess of Wales and the Royal Foundation Centre For Early Childhood are continuing their commitment to the early years and specifically the baby bank sector through this Christmas public ask”.

Cat continues: “As with most charities across the UK right now and especially in the baby bank sector, we are facing our busiest winter yet with the cost of living crisis not just having an impact on increasing demand for our services but a drop in donations and volunteers.””

Read the full article here

Shaping Us National Symposium 2023

Our CEO was honoured to attend the Shaping Us National Symposium this year.

What a great opportunity to join with so many others in the early years sector and discuss how we can make more of an impact and improvements for the next generation.

Vote for Us! Baby Basics Needs Your Support in the My Favourite Voucher Codes Charity Poll this November

Logos of My Favourite Voucher Codes and of Baby Basics

This November, Baby Basics has a chance to win a donation of 20% of My Favourite Voucher Codes profits in their monthly charity poll. 

Who Are My Favourite Voucher Codes?

My Favourite Voucher Codes are a voucher code website that donates 20% of they’re profits to charity every month. They are on a mission to save people money with great discounts while providing much needed support to as many good causes as they can. They have already raised over £64k for charity through their monthly charity poll.

What Is the My Favourite Voucher Codes Poll?

Four different charities take part in the My Favourite Voucher Codes charity poll every month, and this month Baby Basics is one of the nominated charities. At the end of the month the charity with the most votes in the poll will win the donation.

How Do I Vote in the Poll? 

Click on the My Favourite Voucher Codes homepage

Scroll until you see the poll on the right hand side of the page, or at the bottom on mobile

Click the small circle next to Baby Basics

  • The poll is free to vote in
  • You do not need to use any vouchers to vote
  • Everyone gets one vote
  • The poll runs from the 1st to the end of the month. 

Please vote for Baby Basics in the My Favourite Voucher Codes November charity poll. This donation will help us to continue our vital work. We are so grateful to everyone who supports Baby Basics.

The Power of Impact Podcast

Tune in to The Power of Impact podcast to here our CEO, Cat Ross, discussing the nature of poverty in the UK, and how we can work in partnership to alleviate it.

“In this discussion with Cat Ross, we learn about the origin of Baby Basics, how it has grown from a small organisation in a church building to a UK-wide charity delivering vital equipment to thousands. Championed by the likes of The Princess of Wales and Kate Bottley, the charity has found itself at the forefront of delivering relief to families.”

Tune in here