Centre for Early Child Development

The Centre for Early Child Development (CECD) is the engine room of the Blackpool Better Start partnership. It is here that the strategic planning and delivery of the programme takes place with a 50 strong team leading on areas such as Programme Development, Community Development, Research and Evaluation and Business Development.

The CECD works with leading academic institutions from around the world and shares the learning and knowledge with the Blackpool workforce. The Centre is now recognised as a centre of excellence in early childhood development.

A Better Start aims to improve the life chances of babies and very young children by delivering a significant increase in the use of preventative approaches in pregnancy and the first three years of life. The National Lottery Community Fund has invested £215m over 10 years across five areas in England including, Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend-on-Sea.

The Better Start Partnership in Blackpool has been awarded £45m and is led by the NSPCC. The partnership is made up of the CECD, Blackpool Council, NHS, police and the community and focusses on seven wards where families face the greatest challenges; Bloomfield, Brunswick, Claremont, Clifton, Park, Talbot and Victoria.

Find out more about the Better Start programmes throughout the UK

Better Start Cornerstones

CECD Senior Management Team

Merle Davies


Merle is Director for the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, leading the multi agency Better Start initiative, led by the NSPCC in partnership with Blackpool Council and Health partners.

Annette Algie


Annette sits over business infrastructure of the team, including liaison with funder and stakeholders.

Clare Law


Clare is primarily responsible for evidence-based interventions and innovative developments and is the lead for the targeted Better Start programmes.

Sharon Mather


Sharon leads the Community Development team and delivers a range of Community Action Projects in partnership with local families and stakeholders.