Our story

In 2018 the co-founders of Thrive at Five, started to convene philanthropists, grant makers and others with expertise in the early years, to discuss how collaborative approaches might contribute to delivering better outcomes for babies and young children.

During their early years babies and children interact intensely with the people and environment around them to develop their foundational social, emotional, cognitive and physical abilities. This early development profoundly shapes future outcomes. Focussing our efforts on supporting children to achieve their potential in the early years is one of the best investments we can make for the long-term health, wellbeing, and happiness of society.

Pre-pandemic, children from unprivileged backgrounds were on average 4.6 months behind their peers by the end of the first year of school and half of pupils who fail GCSEs at age 16 had been behind at the age of five.

In 2021 teachers reported that 50% of children were not ‘school ready’ for their reception year at primary school. They described children who did not know how to listen, who struggled to play and share with other children, who could not hold a pencil or eat independently and who were not toilet trained. At the end of their reception year in 2022, only 49% of children eligible for free school meals were assessed to have reached a good level of development.

The need for action was clear.

Parents and carers are critical in supporting babies and young children but often they feel disempowered by things being done to them and not with them. It takes a community to raise a child. Support exists but is fragmented and patchy, with nothing to join the dots between midwives, health visitors, nursery staff, early years practitioners, speech and language therapists, family support workers, mental health experts and volunteers.

The solution and the concept for Thrive at Five began to crystallise.

Focusing on a long-term investment in connecting and strengthening the systems and support networks around parents and carers, at a community level, was identified as the most effective way to make sustained improvement in early child development. Collaborating with parents and local organisations would be critical to harnessing the existing power and energy to build capacity in a community.

We are developing, testing and continuing to refine the Thrive at Five approach with our local and national team, supporters and collaborators working together to deliver our first pathfinder in Stoke-on-Trent.

The approach will shortly be rolled out to more pathfinder communities and as we deepen our evidence base, we are building a model that could be applied to achieve long-term systemic changes to child development, in any part of the UK.

Our Values

We believe in the power and courage of parents and communities to support and protect their children. We value:


We listen to understand every perspective, especially from people whose voices are rarely heard, before we plan and act together.


To succeed we take time to build meaningful relationships founded on trust and collaboration with parents, communities and partners.


Through kindness we make friends, see the best in each other and dispel hostility and get more done together.


Lasting change takes endurance to test and find out what works and be sustained in communities everywhere. We are in it for the long haul.

Our team

Our national team drives our strategy, captures our learning and impact and works with supporters, partners and experts from the UK and from around the world. It provides central resources to support our regional teams.

Our trustees

Our Trustees govern the way Thrive at Five is run and provide invaluable advice on our strategy and operations.