Born to Learn


The Javed Fiyaz Charitable Trust with Save the Children

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The Need


Children born into poverty are half as likely to do as well at school as their wealthier friends. In Britain today, one of the richest countries in the world, very young children still fall behind and stay behind at school, with the education gap starting from birth and evident as early as 19 months.
As a result, 80% of a child’s GCSE results are determined by the time they are seven. Seven is just the beginning of formal education but it is almost too late for a fair chance in life for too many children.

Southwark is an inner London borough which is characterised by high levels of deprivation, interspersed with pockets of affluence.

24% of children in Southwark are living in poverty, with poverty rates in some areas as high as 35% - this is higher than both the London and Uk average. A high proportion of Southwark's residents currently receive out-of-work benefits and those parents who do work are in either low paid or insecure jobs, which impacts on their children's chances to reach their full potential.

Project annual structure:


  • Year one: January - December 2013.
  • Year two: January - December 2014
  • Year three: January - December 2015

The project aims to contribute to helping young children in Southwark to overcome the effects of poverty at critical times in their development.

Through a multi-programme approach, the project will strengthen the relationship with local services and community groups in Southwark, offering children and their families access to three of our programmes as a package: Eat, Sleep, Learn, Plan!(ESLP!); Families and Schools Together (FAST); and Born to Read.

Because of the JFCT, Save the Children have been able to deliver a package of programmes to disadvantaged families, some highlights of year one include:


  • Building strong relationships with local authority partners who are instrumental in delivering our programmes.
  • Training 90 local professionals across a range of sectors who are now able to act as Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play!(ESLP!) referral partners, helping us reach the most vulnerable children.
  • Providing 250 disadvantaged families with essential household items through ESLP!, improving the life chances of up to 550 children. Our funding has directly supported 121 of these families.
  • delivering Families and Schools Together in two schools, benefiting 53 children and 25 parents.
  • Training a Local Authority staff member as a FAST train.
  • Successfully established Born to Read in Southwark, engaging five new schools and initiating delivery in two of them.

Our Impact in Southwark

With support of Javed Fiyaz, the Born to Learn project reached 2,609 disadvantaged children, parents and community partners between January 2013 and December 2015, with additional funding from corporate partners.

Programme Delivery:

Child poverty ruins childhoods and stops children from achieving their potential. Lack of jobs, stagnating wages, welfare cuts and increased living costs are all combining to place enormous pressure on families, forcing many in to poverty. Parents experiencing financial pressure cannot meet their children’s basic material needs without risking debt or making choices they should not have to make, such as skipping a meal so they can feed their children.

Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! (ESLP) is our early-intervention grants programme that supports deprived families with young children by providing essential household items. These items improve children’s health and well-being, their ability to learn and develop in the long term, and reduce financial pressures in the home, family stress and poor mental health.

ESLP! has changed the lives of the families receiving our household grants. We awarded over 1,200 essential household items, meeting the immediate needs of local families as well as creating long-term positive change for children. Items included:


  • 246 beds, allowing children to get a good night’s sleep so they wake up ready to learn
  • 62 highchairs and 73 cookers, improving eating habits and helping to establish a routine for young children
  • 160 pushchairs, allowing families to take young children outside safely and enabling parents to access services in their local community
  • 116 toy-and-book packs, providing children with age-related learning activities, giving them physical and mental stimulation, which aids their development.


ESLP! grants have had a life-changing impact on the families receiving our support, giving children throughout Southwark the start they need to have a good start in life. After receiving an ESLP! grant:

  • 99% of families said the items have improved their children’s ability to eat, sleep, learn and play.
  • 85% of families reported a reduction in the level of stress at home.
  • 78% of families said the ESLP! grant improved their children’s morning, bedtime or mealtime routines.
  • 70% of families said the ESLP! grant has improved the family financial situation.

Amaani's Story

Amaani was born in Somalia and came to the UK with her family just before starting her secondary school education. She lives in South London with her husband and four children, a boy, Sadiiq* (5), and her three girls (4, 2, and 1), of which Aiyanna* is the oldest.

Amaani participated in FAST with her three eldest children and as a result has seen significant changes in Aiyanna’s confidence levels and communication skills.
Both Amaani and Aiyanna enjoyed Special Play:

“When she started school, I used to take her to speech and language therapy, because she wasn’t really talking. But she’s okay now, and FAST really helped. And I do Special Play at home with her now. I give her fifteen minutes to play only with her. Before I didn’t know what she liked or what she wanted, but now I know exactly what she likes and what she wants to play."

Public speaking, and introducing herself and her family in front of others, was initially challenging for Amaani. “It’s like everyone has to introduce themselves in front of the other families, and that’s how I get nervous. I had never done that before. And sometimes I do get nervous. It’s like I don’t want to talk at all!”

FAST provided opportunities for Amaani to make new friends with other parents. Amaani cooked a lamb dish on the week she was responsible for bringing in food for her hub. One of children liked it so much, he wanted his mum to cook it for him. So, the mum asked Amaani for the recipe: “I told her the recipe, but it wasn’t okay, so she called me, and said to me, ‘will you show it to me?’ She came to my house last Thursday, and I showed her how to do it, and I gave it to her to take home.”

The programme has made a significant difference in the family’s life, and helped both Amaani and her children grow in confidence. “I now feel more comfortable. I want to help with the children, I want to help with the homework, and teach them, you know, like the teachers do.”


Reading is the key to unlocking a child’s full potential and the best route out of poverty for our poorest children. Yet, every year, 130,000 children in the UK leave primary school unable to read well. This means that over the next decade, almost 1.5 million children will start secondary school already behind. England is one of the most unequal countries for children's reading levels, second in the EU only to Romania.

A young adult who reads poorly is more likely to be obliged to take low-paid jobs or fail to find work at all. In these cases, poor literacy amounts to a life sentence of poverty.

To ensure every child has the right to a good start and a fair chance in life, Save the Children runs Born to Read with our charity partner Beanstalk to give disadvantaged children the reading skills they need for a better future by providing one-to-one reading support for children who are struggling with literacy.

Beanstalk’s most recent annual report reviewed the impact of Born to Read. Key findings included:


  • 93% of children on the Born to Read programme made progress in their reading attainment.
  • Children from a low income background (those eligible for Free School Meals) may particularly benefit from the intervention, making an average 0.5 sub-levels progression more than their better-off peers.
  • 92% of reading helpers reported that the children they worked with increased in reading attainment and confidence.
  • 99% of schools agreed that their reading helpers made a significant impact on the children they supported.


Together, Born to Learn has given thousands of children of Southwark the chance for a fair start in life. We have reached 2,609 children, parents and community partners across Southwark through an innovative package of early intervention, evidenced based programmes, achieving outstanding results.

Javed's support has also enabled Save the Children to further strengthen their relationships with schools, communities and the local authority to ensure this replicable, sustainable and highly impactful model leaves a lasting legacy for children living in poverty within Southwark.