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How safe is the future of Sure Start Children’s Centres?

April 29, 2010

Those of you who have read my site before hopefully will have come across my page Parent Knowledge where I have talked in great length about Sure Start Children’s Centres. 

For those of you not in the know, Sure Start Children’s Centres were set up around 2-3 years ago to bring together childcare, early education, health and family-support services for families with children under 5 years old.  The aim of the Government is to tackle the child poverty and social exclusion working with parents-to-be, parents, carers and children to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of babies and young children so that they can flourish at home and when they get to school.

At Sure Start centres you have access to service providers from health and social services and early education as well as private and community organisations and parents, to provide integrated services for young children and their families based on what local children need and parents want.

So why have I decided to write a post about the Children’s Centres now?  There is quite a big thing going on in our country at the moment, what is it?  The general election – that’s the one!  I have to say I’ve never been very interested in politics, I just find it to be one of those topics that causes arguments so I’ve avoided it and kept my opinions to myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I have voted to have my say but I haven’t taken proper interest in it.  Now that I am a mother I’m starting to realise that it is my duty to pay attention to what the Government do with our country so it is important now more than ever that I use my vote carefully. 

Today I attended the Board Meeting for the Parents/Governors of the local children’s centre.  This is something I have done for nearly a year now as I want to see the Children’s Centre continuing to provide support for local families.  I want other families to benefit from the Children’s Centre as I have done.  But what has surprised me is the number of people who still don’t realise that these centres exist.  Obviously, these centres can only run if they receive funding and are well used by their local community.  I hadn’t realised until attending the meeting this morning that if the Conservative Party are voted into power next week they will be cutting support to the Sure Start Children’s Centres because they do not see them as being important.

This will have a massive impact on the Children’s Centre and the facilities it can provide.  I would like to point out that the Children’s Centres are not just “drop-in” centres.  They are a place of learning, support – to many it is a haven!  I started using the Centre when Little Bean was about 6 weeks old and have basically attended every week of her life since then – she is now 23 months old.  During this time I have learnt/taken part in baby massage, baby yoga, first aid, aromatherapy and alternative stress therapies, parenting classes (handling children’s behaviour), supporting families, supporting communities, craft classes, messy play, understanding feelings, jewellery making, drug/alcohol abuse workshops, learning through play workshops, healthy eating workshops, baby music groups – to name but a few.  They also run breastfeeding support groups, smoking cessation groups, young parent groups and there is a big uptake for the Dad’s groups.  This list is by no means the total of what is available but my brain has run out of steam – for more information please click on the links at the top of this post.

Families with children from newborn to five years old are eligible to attend the Children Centre.  The majority of the people who I know now are those that I have met through the Children’s Centre, they have become firm friends, their children and mine have become friends and hopefully will have started relationships for life.  For some attending the Children’s Centre and its courses has spurred them on to look at new careers and are now working as Family Support Workers – passing on their knowledge to others in need.

The Centre not only provides you with the opportunity to learn new skills but also to meet a diverse range of people.  It should not be attached with the stigma of archetypal Mother and Toddler Groups (though there is nothing wrong with them) but here you meet people from all walks of life and they become your friends.  You have the opportunity to meet children and adults with varying problems and attributes, ie; ADHD, ODD, autism, dyslexia, bedwetting, confidence and behavioural issues.  This provides a greater understanding for all parents and a support network for those families living with these issues.

A group of Mum’s and I have set up a group which we have called DIPSS (Deep In Parent Sharing and Support).  We get together each month and arrange activities and events to be held at the Children’s Centre or in the community to raise money for underprivileged children in the area.  At Christmas we put on a Xmas Bazaar where we raised just over £350 which enabled us to put on a Xmas Party for local children.  The event was a great success and one which we hope will be repeated.  We are currently arranging a Car Boot Sale to be held in the summer.  As well as this we invite other parents/carers to come along and join us, to talk and share their experiences so that we can all learn from and support each other.

We are also in the process of setting up a new course called Inspirations where parents/carers can attend to learn new crafts.  It is a “sharing” course where each of us who knows a different craft will take it in turn to share this craft with others.  If you are interested in teaching or attending and live in the Peterborough area then please contact me or Market Deeping Children’s Centre to register.

If you have a child under the age of 5 and have never heard of Sure Start but think that it sounds like the place for you then click on the Sure Start link at the top of this page where you be taken the Government’s Sure Start page and find a centre near you.

Perhaps you could leave me a comment and let me know what you would like to see in your local Sure Start centre.  They are always open to new ideas.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2010 10:25 pm

    Thanks got an e-mail address for the Sure Start centre that I’ll be moving near too with your link 🙂

  2. Tami permalink
    April 30, 2010 12:39 pm

    I overheard some people talking about the possibility of the Wainfleet one shutting this week. I really hope this doesn’t happen it has been fantastic to be able to go each week with Ethan for us both to be able to socialise! I’ve also done some really useful courses there. I will be gutted if it shuts as there is nowhere else in Wainfleet for us to go and meet other mummys and toddlers. : (

    • April 30, 2010 3:02 pm

      Oh no that’s awful. I hope they don’t shut it down, I would be lost if they shut ours! xx

  3. April 30, 2010 3:26 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. How can I vote conservative when Sure Start saved me from hitting rock bottom, helped me find myself, my friends and am now working with Families – Sure Start is a massive part of my life and my work now. The manifesto says they are only cutting back in areas where they arn’t needed, but I think they are needed every where! Labour do have a soft spot with me becasue of setting the sure start children’s centres up, oh and they are accessible for those with kids up to 13 now!

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