MORE than 200 adults and 100 children attended A Better Start Southend’s Who’s the Expert conference at South Essex College.

The National Lottery-funded programme develops ways of supporting Southend’s children and families. playing an active part in deciding on and designing the services and support they get.

The conference, which was held to explore the best ways to include families into design and delivery of the services they use, was jointly-led by parents. Families, carers and professionals who support families across health, education and social care sectors attended the event, which was held in collaboration with the University of Essex.

It also included speeches, workshops, a question time-style panel with active programme volunteers, information stands, and informative info-graphic posters.

The Turning Tides Team from Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) supported activities including performances of The Lost Leigh Goose by Wild Story Theatre, a sensory room, family robotics sessions and family healthy eating workshops.

Children also got to meet A Better Start Southend’s mascot and take part in arts and crafts.

Speakers included leading academics from Essex University and Joanna Ruffle, Director of Strategic Transformation at Southend Borough Council. who revealed the investment of employing a full time co-production champion, alongside A Better Start Southend and SAVS.

Michelle Gray, A Better Start Southend Parent Champion from Milton ward, and mother of two, said: “So many important conversations happened throughout the day and I’m very proud my family were a part of it.”