Monday, 11 April 2011

Sure Start Centres could face closure...

I am lucky that Mads and I have a very active social calendar.  This is something I was very worried about before I had her as I was concerned I may have gone a little stir crazy on my own at home all day.
We only recently moved to our area, although I grew up here, all my friends have moved away, so I had to start again.

Myself and Mr E completed NCT antenatal classes which were really interesting and I have kept in touch with a few of the girls from there.

However the main way in which I have met new Mummy friends is through my local government funded Sure Start centre.  For those of you who aren't aware Sure Start centres are situated in local communities and offer activities, groups and support to families.

If I am honest when I first heard about my local centre through my health visitor I had a completely different impression and I am ashamed to admit I turned my nose up a little at the idea.  I had an image of them being for 'those' kind of mothers and it being a place where others views and ideas on parenting were forced upon you and shoved down your throat.  

How completely wrong I was.  One day I decided to go to a 'Bumps and Babes' group which was specifically put on for mums and babies under seven months.  I was greeted by ten or so mothers who were really welcoming and kind.  The centre was a lovely building, and not at all how I imagined it.  The staff were all very friendly, and not at all pushy or self righteous, they genuinely just wanted to help mothers and provide a sociable, welcoming environment where mothers could meet and relax.  They laid the floor with more toys, pillows and cushions than you could imagine and provided drinks and refreshments also.  There are mothers there from all walks of life and I have really enjoyed meeting lots of new mums who are very similar to me.

I now go twice a week to two of the groups and have built up a nice network of friends who socialise outside of the centre as well.  

This is why I was really saddened to read a story on The Telegraph website which states that up to 250 Sure Start Centre's could close within a year due to councils trying to cut costs and make budget savings.  

To me this seems a real shame and I really hope that it doesn't happen.  I am fortunate enough to be able to afford to do activities outside of Sure Start- Mads and I have already done baby massage, baby yoga and swimming lessons, but by closing down these valuable community centres it will seriously damage those who are not as fortunate as us who rely on them as a support and help them learn things that they might not otherwise have done.  Our local Sure Start runs baby yoga, baby massage, singing lessons, a free swim session and baby signing to name but a few.  Our centre also offers important breastfeeding support from trained advisers- a lot of women may not continue with breastfeeding as a result of closures.  

For me, it has been a lifeline in my early days as a mother.  I am not one of the 'poorer' families that the government are trying to help, but I am a new mummy who needed a place to go and socialise with people going through the exact same experiences as me.

I just hope that the Councils can find somewhere else to make cuts so that local families do not suffer.

For more information on the Sure Start centres in your area click here.

To read The Telegraph article on the possible closure of the centres click here.


Frankie P said...

They are suppose to be closing 13 of the 16 in my area, outrageous...

Mrs E said...

Really? Thats outrageous. Its such a shame because they really are so vital to the community. I am not a massive community person but they have just been so great for me since I had my daughter.

I Heart Motherhood said...

i posted on this too recently - it really will be a diservice if they close as many as they say they might, everyone is suffering from cuts and by taking away resources like this where will this 'big society' spring from that David Cameron keeps rattling on about if we're all devoid of places to meet people and socialise!

Mrs E said...

It really will, I totally agree with you. I rely on mine as a way of socialising x

Mari's World said...

I hope they don't shut any of ours! Like you I initially turned my nose up for the reasons you mention and I'm so glad I went along that first time as I love it and more to the point so do the girls. We loved it so much we managed to get our twin club moved from a private hall which our subs could barely afford so now our subs are used for Xmas parties, summer Teddy bear picnics and days out.
Great post

Mrs E said...

They really are such a valuable resource for mothers aren't they? x