PARENTS with young children in Keighley are to benefit from an initiative pioneered Down Under.

The parenting programme is used extensively across Australia.

Now Keighley, Bradford and Shipley will join just a few other areas of the UK that are offering the scheme.

Under the voluntary programme, known as Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-visiting (MECSH), parents are supported in four key aspects of their child’s development – communication, relationships, nutrition and exercise, and oral health.

Participants, from pregnancy until their child is two years old, build contact with a health visitor over 25 home visits.

All Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust health visitors are now undergoing specialist training in MECSH so it can be used with families across this area.

Edwina Lintin is the MECSH implementation champion with the care trust public health nursing children’s service.

She says: "We trialled MECSH over two years in the Better Start Bradford areas of Bowling and Barkerend, Little Horton, Bradford Moor and Bradford East.

"It is an evidence-based programme which has been proven to work well in Australia and has been adopted in one or two areas of the UK.

"We found the results of our trial were so positive that we’re not only rolling out MECSH for families with children up to two years of age, but we will also train our nursery nurses in a follow-on programme known as Infant to School, which supports families with children up to five years old. That will make Bradford district only the second area in the UK to deliver both programmes.

"Infant to School helps parents prepare a child for school, offering support with things like toilet training and speech and language development. It can be used with families that have or have not been through the MECSH programme.

"Our health visitors who took part in the MECSH trial said they felt it was very rewarding to feel and know they were making a difference. Everyone knows that prevention is better than cure, and MECSH and Infant to School will help us to identify any issues early on and work with families so they get the support they need right there and then, rather than issues developing over time."

She added that feedback from parents who took part in the MECSH trial had been positive.

Further information about the MECSH programme can be found on the Better Lives, Healthy Futures website, at