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Letter from the Prime Minister on Early Years Intervention (15 Jun 2012)

I recently received a letter from the Prime Minister, David Cameron, giving his support for NorPIP following our sell-out conference in May.

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NORPIP Conference (24 May 2012)

The NORPIP Conference, 'Two Is Too Late' took place last Friday and it was a sell out! I was delighted with the turnout – over 500 delegates and a waiting list besides. We had representatives from 27 Local Authorities, from Kirklees to Cornwall to Jersey and delegates from Adoption UK, The Royal Society for Public Health and the NSPCC to name a few, who also held exhibitions in the atrium.

Our speakers were world class, sharing their expertise on brain development, early years intervention and the consequence of poor early relationships. Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was our keynote speaker. Iain is a Patron of NORPIP and I am delighted with the support and commitment he has given to Early Intervention. Iain spoke about his work in establishing the Centre for Social Justice in 2004 and the importance of cross departmental working in government to progress successful early years work.

I had the great pleasure of being able to launch PIPUK at the conference. My aim is to see 'PIPs' like OXPIP and NORPIP established all over the country. Therefore I am establishing PIPUK which will offer practical and financial support to groups looking to establish a 'PIP' in their area. It is an exciting initiative and I am pleased that Iain Duncan Smith was also able to add his support to the project.

Baroness Susan Greenfield, who sits as a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, spoke about neuroscience and brain development in a fascinating speech. Susan is Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University and has been awarded a staggering 30 Honorary Degrees!

Dr Michael Galbraith spoke about his own work as a psychotherapist, and why we should be providing these services more widely. Michael studied psychology at Cambridge University and clinical psychology in Oxfordshire. For four years Michael worked in one of the original Sure Start local programmes and is now leading an early year mental health service.

We heard after lunch from Dr Amanda Jones who is a Consultant Perinatal Psychotherapist and head of North East London NHS Foundation Trust's tier 3 Perinatal Parent Infant Metal Health Service. Amanda explained Attachment Therapy and told us the tragic story of a seventeen year old girl in a physically abusive relationship who was struggling to form a bond with her new baby boy. The video was heartbreaking to watch and it was clear to see that her baby was afraid of her and even arching his back to get away from her.

However, there was a happy ending that brought tears to my eyes. Amanda showed us footage of the ongoing therapy and as time went on it was clear that there was a bond forming as mother and baby started to laugh and play together. Amanda explained that shortly after the therapy began, the young mother left her abusive relationship and went to a refuge and now, eight years later, she is in a new, stable relationship with three more sons and has formed strong, secure bonds with all of her children and the family is in work.

Finally we heard from Camila Batmanghelidjh who is a psychotherapist and founder and director of Kids Company, a charity based in south London devoted to 'lone' children. Camila spoke of the long term consequences of neglect and her own experiences. Kids Company aims to restore young people's trust in adults by providing psychotherapy, counselling, education, arts, sports and hot meals.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all our speakers and delegates for a superb conference. I would also like to say a special thank you to Whittlebury Park for hosting us, the University of Northampton for sponsoring and my Mum and her team of excellent undergraduates from the University of Northampton for organising a brilliant event!

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Northamptonshire Parent Infant Project (15 Sep 2011)

NORPIP – The Northamptonshire Parent Infant Project – was launched on 5 September 2011 - based in Towcester. We have a dedicated and experienced Board of Trustees who are committed to achieving the expansion of our service throughout Northamptonshire over the next 3 years. I am delighted that my dream of building parent infant projects across the country is getting underway at last.

NORPIP, like its sister charity, OXPIP, will tackle some of Society's most challenging issues. We know from the shocking rioting and looting on our streets in August that there is a desperate need to address the broken elements within our society. Young people who cannot control their impulses, who are violent and who have no moral compass, are like that for a reason....

It all boils down to the earliest relationships. The experiences of a new baby are literally hard wired into his or her brain by the age of two. Where a baby is loved and nurtured, he will grow up with the expectation that the world is generally a good place and people are generally kind. The baby who is abused, neglected or totally ignored, however, will literally fail to develop a healthy brain – the frontal cortex (the bit that enables us to empathise with others and to form relationships) will not grow properly. This is because this part of the brain has its peak period of growth between 6 and 18 months of age, and growth is dependent on the stimulation of a loving relationship with a primary carer.

A baby that does not achieve a secure bond with his primary carer (usually his Mum) means he is unlikely to grow into an emotionally balanced adult. Instead he is likely to be predisposed to a life of crime, self harm, drug abuse and aggression. His brain has not been taught the human traits of empathy, responsibility and love. Before the age of 2 the brain is sponge like in its capacity to soak up the stimulation it receives but deprived of the right sort of attention, the emotional part, the frontal cortex, fails to develop adequately. Our prisons, our psychiatric hospitals and our homeless hostels are full of the evidence of poor early relationships. And worse still, poor early relationships are passed from one generation to another creating a cycle of misery that costs our society dearly.

NORPIP will offer intensive therapeutic counseling to parents and their babies in Northamptonshire. We will support families by working with parent and baby together to build a positive relationship that will meet the needs of the baby. The work of OXPIP in Oxfordshire over the past 12 years shows that our methods work – potentially disastrous relationships between baby and those responsible for his development have been completely turned around in a highly cost effective way. Prevention is not just kinder, but it is also much cheaper than cure.

NORPIP will initially be operating from Victoria House in Towcester and Vanessa Bird is our Office Manager. Please contact me NOW if you have any enquiries for NORPIP – if you would like to access our services, if you would like to volunteer to help us, or if you would like to learn more, please get in touch.

I'm convinced that Parent Infant Projects can offer a massive contribution to mending our broken society.

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