Thriving children? Starting school?  CILLA to the rescue!

Thriving children? Starting school? CILLA to the rescue!

At last it is the summer holidays. We have come out of the exam season and the long wait for results is finally over. This year, for many reasons, I have been pondering what helps our children to have success and smiles rather than stress and low self-esteem.

I was beyond proud last month when I was able to be present at my eldest son’s graduation.  It was partly a relief that all the blood, sweat and tears had been worthwhile but it was also recognition that, at least some of our strategies as parents had helped him on his way.

Building in Success

I have long held the belief that building in success for our child (something we all strive to do) is founded on firm foundations. For a number of years now I have been sharing one of my favourite acronyms with parents and educators, that is:


Look past the gender bias that the name suggests as this CILLA can be male or female, young or old. What this person does is simple …they care, and more than that- they show they care on a regular basis. Within human bounds, they are always available to the child, both emotionally and to turn to whether the waves are rough or the waters are still. Sometimes warmth, sometimes a rock, sometimes a sounding board, sometimes a lighthouse in a storm.

What does C.I.L.L.A. stand for?

It stands for:

Continuity of



                        Learning and



The most intrepid explorers have a back-up team.

There are times when we all think we can ‘do it alone’ but even the most intrepid explorers have a back-up team; they may not be visible but they are there in the background- quiet, unsung and reliable. This is the kind of continuity our children need from the age of two to twenty, beyond that and before it. We all need someone in our lives that are stable and certain- someone we can turn to.

In life we need things to be constant, consistent- provide us with boundaries that make us feel secure. We need somewhere that we can call home, with someone we can rely on.

I recently had the privilege of meeting with Karen McCluskey, a wonderful woman who works with and fights the cause of prisoners. One of the main things many of these people lack in their lives is stability- a person to turn to- who has ‘got his back’ as my wise God-daughter calls it.

In life we go through many ups and downs but what helps us through them is continuity, consistency, a person you feel confident to confide in (I had never made the link between these two words before!)

The heart of the matter

This heart shaped diagram can help us unpick how we can help and support children when things are challenging:



The people Karen meets are often diving- they have fallen off the support structure of society and are living life on their own air tanks; we need to address this and find ways of giving these people support- moving them up from the depths towards the light and air at the surface. There is very little human contact and what there is may be less than supportive!

In my heart diagram, the next level up is surviving- there is some support there- just enough to keep them going but more is needed and this, I fear is where we fall down in our education systems and  as parents  in our busy lives.

Could do better!

Children have form tutors, class teachers, key workers but- do all these people truly understand the responsibility of the relationship role, not just the expectations of education? This is an area where our school report often reads ‘Could do better’

As we go into a new school year we need to reflect on what really makes the difference. By having stronger relationships and more one to one time with a tutor, home-school link worker or mentor a child can move up from surviving to striving. Here they feel supported to begin to drive forward themselves; on the heart picture for a child who is striving there is a greater connection between the child and the mentor. This empowers the child to begin to take some risks or to feel supported when they put in the effort that will help them be successful. They begin to become resilient and are more able to bounce back from the bumps that may come their way.

The top of the heart shape shows us why this metaphor is so powerful. When a child is thriving, that support is still there but the child is empowered to need it less often. They are able to weather the storm and hopefully come back to share those successes with their CILLA.

Bear this in mind this autumn term when you are helping your children settle and that CILLA could well be you.

Dedicated to Alistair Mitchell- with heartfelt thanks.

Ali’s work ‘transforms practice, transforms lives’

You lucky people can hear her speak at Childcare Expo in September and take away not just practical tips and advice but a real depth to enable you to challenge your own practice.

​You will leave invigorated and be able to empower all your staff to really ‘Make it Better for Boys’ and for girls alike. If you simply cannot wait then Ali would love to hear about how she can help match your training needs at


Picking up the pieces: A false economy

Picking up the pieces: A false economy

With child abuse and neglect, it’s the emotional cost that hits us all the hardest. But when it comes to providing the services that could reduce the number of victims and the severity of the damage done, the language of Government is that of money. As such, how such services could be afforded is the ultimate question.

For many working in local authorities nowadays, it’s a grim subject to address. The pressures they face to provide effective children’s services were laid bare in a recent analysis [1] by the Local Government Association, which showed that their attempts to do so in 2015/16 led to an overspend on their children’s social care budgets of £605 million. Sadly, this dwindling pot of money is being increasingly focused at the point of crisis, while attempts to prevent such issues developing in the first place are being pared back. Aside from the untold suffering being allowed to manifest as a result, this approach is nothing more than a false economy.

There is a general consensus among experts from the World Health Organisation, the Royal College of Midwives, the Institute for Health Visiting and UNICEF that investing in prevention and early intervention saves money in the long run. This saving is by no means meagre: the 2011 Christie Commission in Scotland estimated [2] that 40 percent of local public spending is only needed due to the failure to intervene early enough to prevent dysfunction. Ultimately, the earlier you intervene, the better, which is why the most cost-effective approach to saving the greatest number of children from trauma is to stop the next generation of would-be perpetrators from going down that route in the first place.

This is because there are reasons why some people commit acts of cruelty and why others don’t. Like a trigger without a bomb, people don’t normally react violently or abusively towards others if there are no psychological impulses pushing them to do so. For many, these “bombs” were placed in their heads as a result of maltreatment they experienced as children themselves, most crucially during their first few years of existence.

From birth to age three, a child’s brain is developing at its fastest rate and is highly influenced by the nature of its surroundings. If a child is raised well during this period, they will most likely go on to be a non-violent, non-abusive parent and citizen. But if a child experiences maltreatment at this age, the impact upon their psychology is at its most profound and their chances of going on to become a perpetrator later on increase with the severity of the trauma faced.

Because of the extent to which people’s psychology is formed during this brief window, ensuring that every child is protected, nurtured and well-raised during those crucial early years is the most cost-effective way to reduce the number of violent people in society, and with it the number of children who fall victim to their crimes.

If the country as a whole had taken this approach years ago, we’d be spending far smaller amounts on fewer victims by now. Instead, we’re spending more money to witness more suffering. Let’s invest wisely in a fully-funded early years prevention strategy for every local authority and end this cycle of saddening, costly violence for good.

George Hosking OBE is the CEO of WAVE Trust, a charity committed to reducing the number of children experiencing maltreatment by 70% by 2030. You can find out more about this 70/30 Campaign at

[2] (Point 2.14)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)


Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on both a person’s lifelong health & well being and future opportunities. Traumatic and negative events in ones childhood, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), have previously been described as, “the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today” (Dr. Robert Block).

ACEs include abuse (emotional, physical, sexual); neglect (emotional and physical) and household challenges, such as domestic violence, mental illness and substance misuse. 67% of the population has at least one ACE; one-eighth of the population has more than 4.

The 70/30 Campaign aims to reduce child abuse and neglect by 70% by the year 2030 by increasing local and national demand for primary prevention (preventing child maltreatment from ever occurring) through the efforts of their dedicated Ambassador network.

The Campaign recently published their ACEs infographics to demonstrate 1. the potential impact of ACEs and 2. an effective, comprehensive and holistic approach to preventing ACEs.

Infographics are accessible and downloadable directly through their website. Additionally, you can follow them on Twitter @7030Campaign for more information.

To read this full blog post and published comments visit

Guest post: Introducing the 70/30 Grassroots Campaign for Early Years change

Guest post: Introducing the 70/30 Grassroots Campaign for Early Years change

In attending the First 1001 Critical Days APPG meetings held at Parliament, I learned about this campaign. If you wish to impact on the future of our children and society, please read on and get involved! This is a growing network of supported information and guidance on how to do this. 

70 30







‘How is it that so many of us in the ‘early years’ world are so acutely aware of the importance of the conception to age 2 period – yet in the ‘outside world’ it’s virtually never discussed?

The 70/30 Grassroots Campaign aims to change this. We want to create a real public conversation around the importance of a secure, nurturing environment for babies and positive attachment in the early years. We want to get politicians on board and promote policies that support parents and families, and prevent child maltreatment before it begins. We call this ‘primary prevention’.

Yet back in the ‘outside world’, children’s centres are closing, and the relatively few preventive services that exist are being cut back in many areas around the UK. We are pushing back on this. 70/30 Ambassadors across the country are meeting local politicians and MPs, writing to local papers, joining local festivals and engaging their neighbourhood early years charities and organisations.

All of a sudden, our ‘early years’ world – in which people understand the importance of attachment and are committed to preventing child maltreatment – is getting the word out. Linda, our Group Co-ordinator in Reading, told us “I am very excited to be part of a new movement challenging the status quo and pushing for change.” Andie, in Battersea, says, “It’s amazing to see so many individuals come together to make a big impact.”

We need your help with this. If enough of us tell politicians we care about this issue, they will start talking about it. If enough letters, op-eds and press releases appear in local papers, the nationals will pick it up.

We have already learned a few things in our campaigning. One is that people do care about the early years – they just don’t feel they have a role to play, or the power to make things change. We know we do! If enough of us do a little (or a lot…) the 70/30 goal will become a real ‘hot issue’, and investment in primary prevention will follow. One MP we often quote told his constituent that once his office receives 6 letters on a specific campaign, they start looking at it seriously.

So – back to where you come in. We would love to hear from you. We have the resources, the support network and the ambition to make you a change-maker in your local community. Give us a ring!’

The 70/30 Short Film Contest – The 70/30 Campaign is running a contest for 16-18 year olds with an interest in film making across the UK. Entrants are invited to create a short film – max. 3 minutes – sharing the 70/30 campaign and why it matters. First prize is £1,000, plus another £750 for the winner’s school or college! Find out more at

Contact 70/30 on or phone 020 8688 3773

Follow the 70/30 Campaign on Social Media

Elaine :)

You can see this blog and others by Elaine on her website at

Successful meeting with Sir Vince Cable MP in Twickenham

Successful meeting with Sir Vince Cable MP in Twickenham

70/30 Ambassadors for Richmond, Daphne Cotton,  Amy Dobson and Wendy Gilley met with local MP, Sir Vince Cable to discuss the 70/30 Campaign and the importance of making primary prevention a priority for their community.

The ambassadors met Vince during a regular constituency surgery in Twickenham so time was limited, but all agreed that it had been a very positive first meeting.  Vince readily embraced the thrust of the campaign and did not hesitate when asked for his endorsement.  He seemed keen to help in any way he could, but reminded the group that the Liberal Democrats were unlikely to be in power for another 5 years!

He suggested other people in the party that 70/30 might like to engage with, such as Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem Health spokesman, (already a supporter) and Layla Moran, recently elected to Oxford West and Abingdon and a vociferous campaigner on education. He showed a keen interest in the pack prepared for his perusal and had a flick through during the meeting. 

The statistics for Richmond caught his attention, for example, “. . . the highest percentage of 15 year olds engaging in 3 or more risky behaviours in the UK (21.5%) . . . prevalence of smoking among 15 year olds more than twice the London average . . . 55% of 15 year olds reported being bullied in the previous 2 months, the highest proportion in London . . . a quarter of women in the borough will suffer domestic and sexual abuse from the age of 16 . . .

So engrossed in discussion were they all that the all important photo shoot was forgotten! However, Vince kindly agreed to face the camera a week later.  When asked if he had had a chance to look through the pack, he replied that he had been impressed by the Building Great Britons report and had already sent questions off to his Westminster team.