Nottinghamshire County Council: Year 2 (July-October 2020) update

Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) plans to build on their broader whole system approach around the community food environment, to develop food skills, access and support for families with children in the early years. The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme is funded by the Department and Health and Social Care and administered by the Local Government Association. Public Health England also providing expert support and advice.

Stakeholders and communications

  • Re-established links with project stakeholders individually and re-established project team meeting.
  • Re-established deliver groups and initiated joint meetings to share knowledge and progress.
  • Set up an MS Teams group to include external partners of the project team and enable real time sharing of information and progress.
  • Continued work with Healthy start with Healthy family team, Children’s Centres and wider partners


  • Completion of evaluation framework and plan in order to procure evaluation partner.  Selection of preferred evaluation partners underway and initial introductory meeting.


  • Analysis of Early Years survey responses, draft report produced and shared with project team, graphic design working on final document to share as a case study for LGA. Work streams under development to take forward action priorities identified from survey findings.
  • Established relationship with Policy Innovation Research Unit (PIRU) to support analysis of EY survey and joint learning from our Trailblazer.  PIRU will carry out deeper analysis as part of evaluation and work streams identified in survey.

Recipe boxes

  • Commissioned the Soil Association Food For Life (FFL) early years’ Awrad and started work on identifying the 7 early years providers who are going to be part of this work.
  • Procured specialist support to set up and deliver focus groups, inception meeting done and meeting to discuss finer details and methodology. Recruitment of parents for the focus groups started through Children Centre’s Community Development Team.
  • Licence arrangement in place with Loughborough University to enable access to Child Feeding Guide Training for Early Year Providers, including Children Centre staff
  • Worked with NCC commissioned Integrated Wellbeing Service ‘Your Health, Your Way’ to film cooking demonstrations of recipes based on foods available through Healthy Start

FOOD (Food on Our Doorstep) Club Scheme

  • Scoped Family Action model FOOD Club as a combined intervention alongside school meals in children centres and worked on agreement to work together.
  • Used a distributive leadership approach to enable FOOD club interventions to be set up independently to the trailblazer by district council colleagues in Mansfield and being planned in Ashfield and Newark and Sherwood. Learning is being shared with COTP to help refine our FOOD club model.


  • Distribution of Healthy Start vitamins and information in relation to Healthy Start to begin through midwifery services and healthy families teams from October. Grant agreement in place with midwifery to deliver this initiative. 
  • SLA established to enable children centres to distribute vitamins and increased awareness of Healthy Start.


  • The time taken to evaluate and analyse the Early Years survey responses was much longer than first anticipated. The learning is that the deeper levels of analysis only become apparent the more you unpick the questions and the responses received.
  • Procurement has taken time and resource not just from project officers and public health but across other departments including procurement, contracting, legal services and IT support. It is important to engage with the different departments at an early stage of project planning, so they are fully aware of the capacity needed. They can then plan this need for extra capacity at the earliest stage.
  • It’s been good personal development for both project support officers having been involved in a number of complex procurement and commissioning exercises across a wide range of NCC departments and externally with NHS foundation trusts and the voluntary sector.
  • Use of technology has helped facilitate an increase in partnership working not just across departments within NCC but also across the wider project team across a broad range of stakeholders. We have established a Childhood Obesity MS teams site which has helped inform partners/stakeholders of daily developments/reflections. This has also helped the project team evidence the Trailblazer journey which will ultimately help shape the evaluation question “To what extent has the programme influenced how Nottinghamshire County works together to tackle childhood obesity?”.
  • The use of virtual meetings has enabled us to bring the delivery groups from Ravensdale and Harworth together. We have found this to be a more effective, efficient and productive model avoiding duplication. We can now share learning across the different geographical areas and interventions whilst making decisions across both interventions so that we have a consistent model of delivery e.g. – Eligibility.
  • As part of the Food insecurity network initiated and lead by Public Health, we have been able to use a distributive leadership approach to influence a number of projects/interventions through wider partners across Nottinghamshire.


  • The restrictions put in place and pausing of the Trailblazer programme in March due to COVID-19 has impacted on the ability to fully prototype the meal kit (recipe bag) concept. This has meant adapting the plans and process originally intended.
  • The impact the response to COVID-19 has had on the capacity of our colleagues in school meals team to undertake the development work for the meal kit concept (e.g. recipe card development and filming of recipes).
  • Planned activities such as cookery demonstrations and engagement activities in children centres have had to be stopped and delivery model reconsidered to ensure plans fit in with Children Centres Recovery Plans.

Next steps

  • Evaluation partner contract in place and mobilised
  • Y2 delivery support partner provider in place and mobilised
  • Delivery of Food Club Scheme in x 2 children’s centres
  • Recruitment of parent ambassadors to ensure co production is at the heart of the food club intervention and we can respond to service users experience in a timely fashion.
  • Continue to share learning from other food clubs launched by partners and make refinements to COTP based on this learning.
  • Prototype meal kits within “Fakeaway” style intervention to test out – supply chain adaptability, recipe card suitability, family preferences etc.
  • Delivery x 2 focus groups (test & learn approach incorporated alongside project delivery).
  • Establish plans for Community of Practice with delivery partner support.
  • Establish work streams within project team based on early years survey findings.
  • Establish process to allocate and distribute “Child Feeding Guide” training to early years sector (including children’s centres).
  • Confirm x 6 settings to work on FFL accreditation and establish the support required for settings to achieve FFL standard within project timescales and produce baseline evaluation report for “nutritional content of meals served within 6 settings”.
  • Full Healthy Start promotion campaign in line with national developments.
  • Continued roll out of vitamins distribution healthy start information and training to midwives and healthy family teams across Nottinghamshire.
  • Continue working with Children Centre’s and working on how vitamins can be distributed If further restrictions due to COVID-19.
  • Establish links with the private sector based on momentum of local and national work on food insecurity.
  • Establish process of distributing and delivering child feeding guide training to front line early years practitioners in all settings.