Family Hubs Conference February 2023

photographs of attendees at the conference On Monday 6 February, more than 70 parent volunteers and professionals came together to contribute to our ‘helping early years’ approach in Sutton.

With representatives from NHS, volunteering, early years, health visiting, school nursing, housing, employment and youth justice, to name just a few, the aim of the day was to:

  • Be able to walk away explaining family hubs in Sutton to others

  • Be more informed about the needs of children, young people and families in Sutton

  • Get a chance to shape our next steps for early intervention together.

So what are family hubs?

Family Hubs are a way of bringing together all the support a family may need, from pregnancy through to young people turning 19 (or 25 if they SEND).

Family Hubs aim to make a positive difference to parents, carers and their children by providing a mix of physical and virtual spaces, as well as outreach, where families can easily access non-judgmental support for the challenges they may be facing.

  • It is relationship-based early intervention for families from pre-birth - 18 years old (or up to 25 with a learning disability). It is not just Children’s Centres

  • It is about the way we work together - integrated and complementary services. It is not just about buildings

  • It is about changing what we do. It is not about adding to an already packed system.

Why do we need family hubs?

Children from the poorest 20% of households are four times as likely to have serious mental health difficulties by the age of 11 as those from the wealthiest families. (Morrison Gutman et al, 2015).

Children living in poverty are significantly more likely to suffer from acute and long-term illness. They are significantly more likely to require hospital admission and were 72% more likely than other children to be diagnosed with a long-term illness. (RCPCH).

  • In Sutton, 5,225 (12.6%) children under 16 living were living in poverty (2021). 

  • In Sutton 1,067 children are homeless and living in temporary accommodation (December 2022).

We have a part to play in reducing inequalities, which means ensuring our early intervention consciously considers and addresses these inequalities in the way we develop our work.

What happened at the conference?

After setting the context in Sutton, colleagues were invited to reflect on their services, what has changed in the last two years,since the launch of the Helping Early Strategy 2020 - 2023.

Families are key to the success of the family hubs and the event was also attended by several parent volunteers who have all trained as Parent Group Leaders, who shared their stories and experiences in a thought provoking session.



“We are doing this without extra funding. Look at the room and the number of people who are all committed”

Helen Gasperelli, Head of Inclusion, Cognus


In the afternoon breakout sessions, groups explored what the experience might be for different service users, young people, parents, families etc, when accessing services, what might the result be as a result of the new family hub working arrangements. Together they identified what was working well, what the barriers were and worked on possible solutions. 

With over 80 first languages spoken in Sutton, the final session of the day focussed on how services currently communicated with their service users, thinking about the adaptations required for those whose first language is not English and those with literacy difficulties. Teams took the opportunity to consider practical ways to develop accessibility in their own service.