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Work in local areas

It is our experience that many practitioners and policy-makers in local areas recognise the wisdom that prevention is better than cure and would like to see much greater emphasis given to primary prevention in local policies in their area. However many barriers prevent this such as funding constraints, need to prioritise statutory responsibilities to deliver reactive services and lack of knowledge of what works in primary prevention.

WAVE works with local areas to overcome these barriers and to help implementation of primary prevention strategies.

A recent WAVE study with the Department of Health identified the main factors which local authorities find prevent them from pursuing a primary prevention approach.

Excluding 70/30, our current work on primary prevention with local areas is concentrated mainly in three areas:

1. Adoption of the recommendations in Conception to age 2 – the age of opportunity

The Department of Health is supporting WAVE to work with local areas to implement the recommendations contained in the 2013 report ‘Conception to Age 2 – the age of opportunity’. The report sets out the research evidence which underpins the importance of ensuring children get the best possible start in life, including ensuring the prevention of harm. It also provides a detailed set of recommendations for local area commissioners who wish to implement primary prevention.

WAVE has also proposed 10 key priorities for local areas. Download the PDF.

Our work with the Department of Health includes the provision of the following online resources:

  • An analysis of the conditions required to shift to a prevenitve approach
  • A quick guide to Age of Opportunity 
  • How Age of Opportunity recommendations complement the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme
  • A guide to primary prevention for local commissioners
  • Case studies of best practice in preventive and integrated work

If you are from a local authority and would like to know more about our implementation work, please contact Anthoulla on
or +44 (0)20 8688 3773.

2. A Better Start 

The Big Lottery Fund’s £215m Fulfilling Lives: A Better Start initiative aims to deliver a step change in preventative approaches in pregnancy and the first three years of life to improve life chances of babies and young children.

The key features of the programme are:

  • An investment of £30-£50 million in 5 areas, each with a population of approximately 50,000 for 8 to 10 years.
  • Each area will run a variety of programmes and initiatives to improve outcomes for children in three key areas of development: social and emotional development; communication and language development; and nutrition.
  • There will be a ‘systems change’ in the way that local health, public services and the voluntary sector work together to put prevention in early life at the heart of service delivery and practice.

WAVE Trust helped to shape the design of the A Better Start initiative and advised Big Lottery on the social and emotional development aspects of the project. WAVE’s CEO George Hosking sat on the steering committee of the project as an advisor, along with Naomi Eisenstadt (former national head of Sure Start) and Kate Billingham (former national head of Family Nurse Partnership). WAVE’s ‘Age of Opportunity’ report has provided many local areas with a basis for their social and emotional development plans.

3. Presentations to local areas and interested parties 

Since our formation WAVE staff have delivered hundreds of presentations across the UK and internationally to a wide variety of audiences on subjects such as early intervention, primary prevention, ending violence, tackling domestic violence, ending child abuse and neglect and the creation of local and national policies to combat violence and abuse. 

Audiences have been as varied as 200 judges of the Western Circuit, Cabinet Ministers, Royal Colleges, local councils and Health and Wellbeing Boards, MPs and peers, and many professional groups. We have presented to the Governments of Ireland, Kazakhstan, Moldova and the UK.

Anyone interested in requesting a speaker from WAVE should contact Anthoulla Koutsoudi on or +44 (0)20 8688 3773.