A closer look at how we put Children at the Heart last year, and the difference we made together.
From conducting research on the impact of the pandemic on babies in Lambeth to bringing policy makers and services together to protect our most vulnerable young people throughout the UK, over the last year we have brought every inch of our policy and practice expertise to bear on stopping childhoods from being disrupted and life chances from being derailed.
While adapting and responding to emerging needs, we’ve not missed a beat in our work to keep delivering the changes that make childhood better: driving improvements to the services children count on and gathering intelligence about work on the ground to influence decision-making.
This year has painfully exposed and accentuated the vulnerabilities and the fault lines that we already knew were there in the system. Now we must fix them.
A key aspect of our work this year has involved working in partnership to establish a vision for recovery and bring together all those who can help to achieve it.
Throughout the last year, NCB has worked in partnership to generate and interrogate evidence to protect the interests of children and young people. Since the Covid-19 crisis swept the country, we have been heavily involved in behind-the-scenes meetings with officials, network-gathering and information-sharing at great speed. The Council for Disabled Children, Childhood Bereavement Network and our early years networks have been vital hubs.
Our own research helped to identify the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic on children’s lives. Informed by young people’s experiences and refined by intelligence from our wider networks, our evidence reached the highest levels of decision-making through a variety of reports, roundtables and strategic meetings.
Public services did not have enough funding before Covid-19, and are now expected to help the extra people impacted by the pandemic and lockdown. These services need long term funding and help to make sure they can continue to work with each other to help children and families
The Year at a Glance
- With the SEND Review and Care Review around the corner, we ran Roundtable events which brought children and young people together with the Children’s Minister, putting them at the heart of policy decision-making.
- In Northern Ireland we began work with the Department of Education to transform mental health for young people. We worked closely with young people to the create the Our Minds Our Future charter which detailed their top priorities for improving mental health services.
- In November, we published vital new evidence which improved understanding and challenged assumptions around how best to support children and families living with the combined risks of mental ill health, domestic violence and drug or alcohol misuse.
- In December, we urged immediate action to prioritise the mental health of young people, following the University College London’s report on mental ill health at age 17. Our summary of policy recommendations, alongside Young NCB’s reflections, pointed a clear pathway towards a more supportive environment for our young people.
Children at the Heart
Find out how we’ve taken the voices of young people to the heart of Government using a campaign that’s united over 150 organisations.
Children and young people have been heavily involved in shaping our response to the pandemic over the last year. Alongside virtual meetings of our main participation groups, Young NCB and FLARE, young people rubbed online shoulders with Government Ministers at Roundtables, Select Committees and other Parliamentary events.
Despite pandemic restrictions, we were able to train 400 professionals to involve children and young people effectively, as well as continuing internal staff training to keep improving our own participation structures and approaches.
Young NCB has been a crucial support system for me to be able to do something and get on with it, especially during such tricky times. It was always really enjoyable to be logging onto a NCB Zoom meeting, just knowing that I’m going to have an absolute blast.
Dmitrijs Meiksans, 15
The Year at a Glance
- Over the course of the year, we helped to amplify the voices of 1,304 children and young people through our focus groups for research, campaigns and policy development. A huge 64% increase on our 2019-20 figure.
- We brought young people’s voices to the heart of government, giving them the chance to speak directly to MPs, Treasury officials and advisors at key decision-making groups such as the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children and the House of Commons Education Committee. This included a clear message from children and young people asking the Chancellor for urgent investment to address mental health, improve education and turn around the crisis facing services for children.
- We used our policy and public affairs expertise to train our first ever group of media ambassadors to speak out directly on the issues that matter to them. Two of the Media Ambassadors, Zoya and Disha spoke with the BBC about their experiences of school closures (see video, below).
Finding a voice, finding hope
Bethan used her own experiences of worry and uncertainty to speak directly to policy makers about the issues turning young people’s worlds upside down.
Growing up with NCB
Having been involved with NCB for many years, Tutu’s curiosity led her to become a Young Representative to the Board, to take a closer look at how the charity operates.
While there are aspects of face-to-face interaction that are hard to replicate online, we were able to harness our experience of using online conferencing tools to adapt quickly, and found that many of our events were able to connect wider audiences than ever before, bringing us closer together across geographical divides.
The pandemic provided a clear focus for much of our partnership activity last year. As well as working with 17 leading charities to provide the Recovery principles and policy briefings, every member of the NCB family brought organisations together to respond to the immediate challenges of the pandemic while staying focused on our long term goals to deliver a better childhood.
We are crystal clear that we can only achieve our vision through strong networks of organisations working together.
Alison O’Sullivan, Chair of Trustees
Year at a Glance
- The Early Years SEND Partnership, led by The Council for Disabled Children, made a ‘tangible and sometimes transformational impact’ on improving local strategies in 73 local authorities in northern England. The Partnership’s impact is wide-ranging, in one area leading to the creation of a new early years speech and language therapist post.
- Our award-winning Making it REAL (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy) programme continues its ground-breaking work in engaging parents in their children’s early literacy development, with a new focus on supporting children with SEND.
- Convened by the Council for Disabled Children, the Special Educational Consortium held meetings at the highest level with Government officials on a wide range of issues. In a meeting with the Children’s Minister, we secured important changes to the language of school exclusions.
- We drove lasting system change in 12 local areas through supporting them on their journey towards outcomes-based commissioning in delivering better outcomes for disabled children.
I think that the money should be spent on making sure that children and young people’s wellbeing is OK after Covid. Yes, it is important that we all get back into education, but we also need all of the other things that have been taken away from us.
Through a variety of programmes, campaigns and partnerships, we’ve supported schools to take strides in boosting staff and pupil wellbeing.
Across the NCB family, we draw intelligence from our networks about the challenges services are facing, and then provide targeted support and guidance, sharing good practice to overcome barriers and drive improvement. As well as ensuring our training and support offer was available online, we have adapted the format and focus of webinars and e-learning content delivery to meet ongoing needs, which regularly reach hundreds of professionals.
Given other pressures, we have worked with the sector to keep strategic priorities on people’s radar and ensure the workforce has the confidence to continue to deliver, especially for children with SEND.
The Year at a Glance
- Over the past five years, our Early Childhood Unit have transformed early years systems in Jersey through our partnership with Jersey Childcare Trust, engaging with 7000 people directly, including training and consulting 3000 practitioners and stakeholders across the island.
- The Childhood Bereavement Network has played a vital role in strengthening bereavement services during the pandemic, helping them adapt to unimaginably challenging circumstances. We held 20 webinars with an average attendance of 175 practitioners and maintained a comprehensive information service through network meetings, email bulletins and more.
- Led by the Council for Disabled Children, the Information Advice and Support Programme has played a vital role in ensuring families, children and young people know how to get the key information they need amid the changing picture of the pandemic.
Responding to COVID-19 in Lambeth
Find out how we worked quickly during the pandemic to adapt local services to the needs of families with young children.
The Year at a Glance
- We have implemented our staff Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity plan and are committed to embedding this plan in all aspects of our work, from staff and Trustee recruitment through to our own staff policies to requiring suppliers to share their position and policy on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with us.
- With a fully cloud-based infrastructure and the use of video conferencing, webinar and other tools to bring people together, NCB was able to move overnight into full and effective digital delivery.
- We supported the Sex Education Forum to establish as an independent entity, having been part of the NCB Family for 34 years.
Our Financial Information
Our income in 2020/21 was £16.2m, with £8m of restricted and £8.2m of unrestricted funding. Our expenditure was £16.2m, with £15.8m (or 97%) towards our charitable activities.
The income shown in NCB’s latest accounts is £16.2m. However, this is inflated by £8.3m of funding that is received by NCB, but is passed on to partner organisations, leaving a core income of £7.9m, which is more reflective of our size as an organisation.
This situation is common for NCB, as one of our great strengths is our leadership and bringing the children’s sector together. We are therefore trusted, by Government and funders, to lead large scale partnerships. And a big part of this leadership role is to receive and then steward funding among partner organisations involved in a particular programme.
You can read about our financial information in more detail in the full Annual Report.