• By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 05th May, 2009

Prevention message found in a broken bottle

The UK government was continuing to put 300 times the level of resources it was investing in prevention towards dealing with the consequences of predictable crime, the creator of the UK charity, Worldwide Alternatives to Violence told an audience in Nottingham, last week.Accountant turned psychologist turned clinical criminologist George Hosking was sharing the platform with David Olds and other international figures at a conference hosted by One Nottingham to press home the message “the earlier the better”.He came with a practical demonstration, tossing a glass bottle into the air to demonstrate the social impact of intervening too late.Imagine a group of adults in their bare feet going to help clean up the broken glass, he said. Then imagine another group of adults having to help the other adults get the glass out of their feet and bandage them up. David Olds, the originator of the Nurse Family Partnership, made a similar case with a more familiar metaphor.There was a mountain to climb to secure stable funds for early intervention and prevention activity, he said. The unprecedented economic downturn meant that it was an ever steeper uphill struggle. But the logic for scaling up effective early intervention and prevention programs had never been clearer, thanks to the evidence on economic return on investment from these programs.The earliest years, even the nine months of pregnancy, provided an optimal time in the life cycle to put a child on a positive trajectory towards growing into a healthy and productive citizen. David Olds has been researching his home visiting program for high risk families for 30 years. It is now being piloted in the UK under the name Family Nurse Partnership. Not all home visiting programs are alike in their effectiveness. Olds presented compelling data to show that when nurses conduct home visits they get better results compared to paraprofessionals – about two times better in terms of of improved prenatal health, fewer childhood injuries, increased intervals between births and improved school readiness. Implementing with quality and fidelity to the model was critical to reaching effectiveness, he argued.The conference was opened by Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council. The Chair of One Nottingham. Graham Allen, MP, who has been championing Nottingham’s cause, was master of ceremonies. Other speakers included: Karyn McCluskey, deputy head of Glasgow's Violence Reduction Unit and Honor Rhodes, Director of Development at the UK Family and Parenting Institute.[For more about the Nurse Family partnership in the UK, see True partnership brings down the battle flag; for more about the economic argument for prevention in the UK, see UK Treasury sold prevention with money-back guarantee; for more about early intervention in Nottingham, see Nottingham City Early Intervention website]

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