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The campaign, led by the charity Family Action, Medway Council and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), is seeking up to £50m from the Big Lottery Fund to invest in services aimed at improving young children’s nutrition, social and emotional development and language and communication skills.
It is hoped that by transforming the way parents are supported, from their child’s conception through to their fourth birthday, they will be in a better position to cope with the challenges they face and give their children the best possible start in life.
Gillingham FC, whose community trust already works closely with local schools and youth organisations, said it was proud to support the Better Start bid.
A club spokesperson added: “Gillingham Football Club have been an integral part of the Medway community since 1893 and are committed to trying to improve the lives of all families in the local area.
“Additionally, the club recognise that special regard is to be given to young families who may need extra support during an important time for their children’s development.”
Politicians from the three main parties in Medway are backing the bid. Council leader Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con) said: “As everybody knows, our children are our future. That is why Medway Council is wholeheartedly behind the Better Start campaign.
“I am pleased that we have support from colleagues on all sides of the council chamber, and from bid partners.
“We are putting together the strongest possible bid to secure a share of Big Lottery funding. If successful, Medway Council will use that money to provide the best possible services for those children who need them most.”
“A financial boost as large as this could do an enormous amount of good across Medway.”
Cllr Geoff Juby, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Many of the children in our deprived wards have poor living conditions at home.
“We desperately need extra support for these children, particularly those from our growing ethnic communities, and in homes where there are multiple problems of literacy, poor health, poverty and sometimes drug or alcohol addiction.”
Medway is one of 15 areas bidding for a share of £165m. The winners will be announced in June.
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