SOME of Sunderland’s most deprived areas could receive £50million of lottery funding to improve the health prospects of youngsters.
The city has been successful in the first stage of the Big Lottery Fund’s scheme Fulfilling Lives: A Better Future and has submitted an application.
Three to five local authorities will ultimately win between £30million to £50million to bring about a “step change” in the level of care available to youngsters up to three years old.
Hendon, Millfield, Pallion, Redhill, Southwick and St Anne’s have been identified by the charity Groundwork North East, who are running the bid, as the wards that would benefit from the money.
The six wards are the worst-performing in the city based on child poverty, low birth weight, development at age five and obesity at Year Six.
The funding would be delivered across an eight to 10-year period, with a focus on improving children’s social and emotional development, communication development and diet and nutrition.
Sunderland submitted its first stage bid on Friday, along with 36 other authorities nationwide, including Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside.
Sam Palombella, director of strategic programmes at Groundwork, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the city and I really hope we get it.
“It’s not just about improving the propects of these very young children but a change in the culture can mean a cost saving later on in life when these people aren’t going to need certain other services.”
A report for the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board claimed the scheme offered Sunderland the chance not only to ease the pressure on services in the long term but to reduce health inequality across the city.
Millfield councillor Iain Kay welcomed the news of the bid and told the Echo there are many families in his ward who need more help and support.
“In terms of any ideas that bring money into the city, that’s something I would want to support and when those resources are targeted in my own ward, I’m particularly pleased,” he said.
“We’ve a good number of people with young families in the area, so any funds that can help these people to thrive in the city is an excellent initiative in my book, and I’m certain if we do get the money, it will be spent wisely.
“We do have a good track record of being successful with these types of bid so hopefully we will be again.”
City council leader Paul Watson said the cash could make a “massive difference”.
He added: “I think it’s really important that all organisations work together on this.”