PIONEERING Bulwell Labour MP Graham Allen has shelved political rivalry to drive forward an ambitious scheme aimed at tackling deprivation.
Mr Allen created the early intervention programme, which seeks to give children and families the emotional and social fibre to turn them away from a life of crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour.
Now he has been directly commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron to show how the coalition government can use early intervention to ensure the most deprived get a better start in life.
Mr Allen, who lives in Bulwell, has presented his findings and recommends 19 programmes ranging from tackling teenage pregnancy to an anti-crime course for ten-year-olds.
But most recommendations focus on the first three years of a child’s life, which Mr Allen says is the “really explosive bit of brain growth”.
The ethos of early intervention is that a child who is given a good grounding, for a relatively small price, costs the State much less than a trouble-causing, drug-using teenager.
On his government-commissioned role, Mr Allen said: “I have taken on this added burden not for sectional interest or to score political points but to improve the life chances for people in constituencies like mine.
“Nottingham has proved we can intervene successfully. Now we not only need to prove we can take early intervention to a national level, we also need to find inventive ways to fund it in a time of economic drought.”
Mr Allen is no stranger to cross-party partnerships. In 2008, he published a book entitled ‘Early Intervention, Good Parents Great Kids, Better Citizens’ alongside former Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith.
In it, the duo criticise 30 years of failure by governments to tackle the fundamental causes, rather than the symptoms, of social deprivation.
As part of his investigations into early intervention, Mr Allen has taken inspiration from methods of tackling deprivation from all over the world.
On his website, he declares: “The idea that government should deal with crime and other social problems by simply reacting to them when they become serious is an approach which will no longer suffice.”