to think that a lot of surestart money is completely and utterly wasted(13 Posts)
Many of the activities at our local surestart centre are completely and utterly inaccessible to families in our area or they are a bit of a frill or they are duplicating what already existed before in the volentary sector.
For example a subsidized baby massage class at 2.30pm to 3.30pm is only accessible to first time mums. Even so the class costs £5. same with music groups. A lot of money has been put into lovely buildings when there were perfectly good exisiting buildings.
Useful things like decent wrap around child care has not yet materialised. My son's school does have an after school club but it finishes at 5pm and is not related to the surestart centre. They would like to extend the hours, but are finding the red tape impossible.
At the same time the number of health visitors has been drastically cut and more community nurses and nursery nurses have been employed. Seven years ago my GP surgery had 3 health visitors and now they have one health visitor.
I have a neighbour who has had matitis four times in five months. Understandably is is quite fed up and depressed. She cannot get to the breastfeeding support group as she has older children. The health visitor cannot come out to her has she is not a priority. (Her children are in no danger.)
The governant fails to understand that if you look after the mother's health then the mother will look after the family.
Oh sorry actually my GP surgery doesn't have a permament health visitor, they are borrowing someone from another surgery part time on a temporary basis.
When surestart was rolled out round here all after school provision was cut. They turned our wonderful and very cheap after school drop in into a sure start centre (so only under 5s). All of there toddler groups were free (v.good) but this meant all the old established ones , some over 40yrs old, struggled because they had to charge (v.bad).
I live in an area of high deprivation and V.high teenage pregnancy. When signing up for SS we had to produce passport photos for our card. Ok for me but I remember being on benefits and forking out £5. for photos wouldve put me right off!
But the most annoying thing was there were loads of free trips to Lego land etc. All of these trips were booked up by those in the know and must have cost a fortune. What a bloody waste of money. People really going short and SS funding cronies jollies to Lego land!
But on the whole SS is a good thing and there are some brilliant initiatives out there. We have a drop in community midwife which is great.
I dislike the rigid postcode lottery though. I worked with disabled parents and there may be a fantastic, accessible scheme on their doorstep but if they had the wrong post code they could only use their own, unaccessible scheme.
SS does great stuff. I cannot hate it. But its imperfect and disjointed.
I think it depends where you are. My local children's centre is fantastic.
dh worked for ss when it first came out and he was an economic development worker helping people with finance difficulties - he bulk bought nappies from boots so that the cost savings could be passed on and also withthe points it made it cheaper.
he also had a job notice board and helped people fill in application forms and look for work.
i dont know what the priorities are now by govt or how the agenda is driven - i don't know how locally run sure starts are now and how involved parents REALL|Y are.
i am pretty sure that in some respects you are right
but i have worked in one capacity or another as a community worker and i am so dissallusioned after 10 years i cant begin to tell you.
i have worked using euro[pean funding and srb govt funding and housing association funding and i can't begin to tell you what a non effect all this money has
all the buzz words are bull shit
the benefits are virtually zero
and junkets and jollies are the only way that some families get to actually benefit from this money - i can say that kidson an estate might never get a holiday never mind see out of the town they wre born in - however a trip to alton towers or a countryside tpas conference with benefits for kids is something that creates memories and is more tangible than any amount of govt sponsored 'capacity building' wank
My local surestart does fantastic things.
Some of the things I can think of off the top of my head..
A close friend who is a regular at the surestart toddler groups with me has been suffering from depression and anxiety. After her GP told her that there was a huge waiting list for counselling and if she wanted to get better she'd have to go [private and pay £45 an hour (which she couldnt afford) she had a bit of a cry in front of one of the suretsart workers. They then arranged for her to see a counseller for a subsidised rate of £5 an hour and helped provide childcare on the dyas my friend struggled with it.
A man who comes to toddler group had help with childcare after his second child was born until he got back on his feet when his wife died during child birth. He has been welcomed with open arms to all the Mums group and given support with things he was struggling with.
The suretstart workers gave up their own time for free to volunteer to come swimming with some of us with more than one child over the summer holidays due to rules of one adult per child in the pool meaning that lots of us werent able to take our children swimming.
Loads of trips and days out over the holidays.
I'm constantly amazed by how fantastic the whole thing is.
oh and forgot to say that EVERYTHING put on my local surestart is FREE. A pot gets put on the side for you to donate 50p IF you can afford to/want to each week.
Our local surestart centre is brill. All the activities are free. They have groups that are available for mixed ages of children and a creche available for other sessions. They also open on a Saturday once a month for people who work.
My DD goes to a sure start nursery 2 1/2 days a week when I'm at work. It's an excellent nursery and the fees are the cheapest in the area, especially compared to private nurseries.
There was definately a shortage of good quality affordable childcare places in the city before the sure-start nurseries opened, so they are a godsend to many people.
I basically can't say enough good things about them, but appreciate that they may be run differently in other areas.
The HV shortage is a problem I agree but I thought that this would be an NHS problem, nothing to do with children centres / sure-start.
Ours is brill too - i only wish it existed 6 year ago when i had dd and not from when i had ds 2 years ago - i think i would have enjoyed dd alot mroe with all the extra support and paretns groups n things. Im sure they do differ from place to place. Nothing costs anything at ours other than a voluntary contribution is suggested if we help ourselves to the tea, coffee and fruit on offer. I am further biased as i also now work for one and in a good centre a good surestart worker can signpost and gain access to alot of services and help a family could need.
Being a more rural area, we don't have a Childrens centre - the staff have a base at a school and then 'deliver services through existing facilities'. So some extra groups round the villages etc.
Trouble is, that they don't really advertise their services. They have a noticeboard outside their base that you can only read if you go right into the school grounds. And another right at the back of the leisure centre foyer, which you only see en route to the changing rooms. So the other week they had a Sunday dads group with activities. Brilliant idea if they'd told anyone about it - no website, nothing in the local paper (who will write about the opening of a yogurt). DH would have gone, but I only found out about it when standing in the swimming pool queue. Sigh.
most of the money that is spent on the sure start work most people don't see as their main work is the "behind the scenes" work with families that really do need extra help and support. The groups and stuff are just "add ons"
yes i must admit the 'other work' they are involved in is a real eye openeer.
There's a beautiful Sure Start centre near us, with some fantastic-looking activities available. It is lovely.
However unfortunately unlike the doctors' surgery where midwives' appointments used to be, which was in the centre, it's in a school on the edge of town away from any bus routes
I missed one appointment because I couldn't manage to walk there due to pregnancy issues. Goodness knows what it would be like getting there with young children.
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