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Can we get together to protect SureStart?

(19 Posts)
ReadingTeaLeaves Thu 07-Oct-10 23:06:51

I posted this in chat originally (shows how much I know about mn - have been on here ages but didn't spot the in the new section!!) but didn't get much response. Now trying here instead.

I'm really fed up about the rumours that SureStart services are going to be cut. Not because I'm a sharp-elbowed middle class parent who might not get an opportunity to use it in future if it does, but because any cuts (and the current rumour is that budgets will be cut by 60%) will affect all sorts of children from all sorts of income groups and quite possibly will hit the most vulnerable hardest.

This article could-mean-sure-start-will-soon-target-only-the-po orest-families-2093404.html explains what I mean best.

I'm feeling all angsty and activisty about it and want to go and picket somewhere about it. Have been to a local SureStart centre today to offer my support if they need some backing at any point, but just wondering how you lot all feel about it.

I accept the 'cuts are needed somewhere and are never popular' argument, but cuts are NOT needed EVERYWHERE. It's about prioritisation. And every child is supposed to matter.

In my area, at least (and I accept it is not true everywhere), the SureStart facilities are very like the ones mentioned in the article (I'm in a different area). Centres are used by a whole mix of people, which I think is a testament to their quality and means that children mix with other kids who they might not ordinarily get to meet - which is surely good for everyone as it 'normalizes' people rather than creating artificial barriers between people from different income brackets. Round here, you don't have to be poor to live in a house without a garden or much play space, so having somewhere different to go, with nice outside play areas and different toys is beneficial even to people on middle incomes. As the article says too, you don't have to be 'poor' to suffer from PND or find having a young child really tough.

OF course services can be improved and 'the most vulnerable' should be where the services are targeted. Centres should have outreach programmes like that described in the article to ensure that the most needy are getting the most benefit. But by cutting the services back, the people who need it most are just as likely to lose out.

I may be middle class and sharp elbowed but I'm really keen to shout loudly to prevent SureStart being cut back, because I don't believe that can happen without impacting vulnerable children - who don't necessarily come from the poorest families in society (although of course these children need at least as much support as anyone else!).

Any ideas what I/we can do about this threat?

sanfairyann Thu 07-Oct-10 23:10:30

I've just started another thread about all cuts affecting families. I want to protest about it. Be great to have a bit of company smile. FAmilies do matter really-are-all-in-it-together-let

EldonAve Thu 07-Oct-10 23:17:23

I think it's a lost cause tbh

Local councils will still fund some services like the One o'clock clubs in London

ReadingTeaLeaves Thu 07-Oct-10 23:21:29

I'm in London. But had a chat with SS centre here today and their funding comes from the council BUT their funding comes from central gov, so the only thing that is guaranteed is that there will be cuts.

Being defeatist about it is only going to guarantee a terrible outcome.

Sanfairyann (great name btw) - I'm hopping over now.

southeastastra Thu 07-Oct-10 23:22:34

they need to make their centres for all ages of children for a start

sanfairyann Thu 07-Oct-10 23:22:51

you're in London - yay! That's where I plan on having our protest picnic! How handy for you . . .

RandomMusings Thu 07-Oct-10 23:24:56

Our surestart staff snitched on a Mum who was discussing her child's diet with another Mum at a play and stay session and a HV turned up on her doorstep the next day

we don't go there any more

loopyloops Thu 07-Oct-10 23:27:31

I'm with you.

Have you started a Facebook Group? Would you like some help?

I wonder if MNHQ have any ideas, they're good at stuff... I'll report this and see if anyone can think of anything.

ReadingTeaLeaves Thu 07-Oct-10 23:29:56

RandomMusings - crap people at some places doesn't mean the whole system should get shot down. People like that deserve to have complaints raised against them to make sure the system improves, but that doesn't mean the system is not doing good stuff overall.

sanfairyann Thu 07-Oct-10 23:31:26

great - can you do facebook stuff? mnhq also brill idea. can we link all the cuts together and the fact they are disproportionately aimed at the most vulnerable in society - kids!!

loopyloops Thu 07-Oct-10 23:42:07

Yup. I'll make a start on it tomorrow. Have any of you any idea exactly what to say? What to call it? What to do? If I make a page and add just you then we can change as and when until it's ready to go live.

Anyone do twitter? I don't get it.

btw. I don't want to be involved in any party politics at all, sorry but if it becomes that I'm out (campaigned for LDs in the election and am furious with myself now).

muttimalzwei Fri 08-Oct-10 00:01:16

I'll help Surestart have made a real difference to where I live

Dione Fri 08-Oct-10 00:12:07

Surestart have and are making a real differnce where I live. I live in a really really deprived inner-city area. My DS attended Surestart and it was brilliant. The staff were highly trained as well as loving. All of the kids were living in poverty but for those whose parents lived in hostels, SS was a lifeline. It gave the kids structure, security, education and freedom, where without SS they would have none. It helped parents through Parenting, Child Nutrition, First Aid classes, as well as the more important things as helping establish community.

My son is no longer in SS, he isn't educated in my area, but he grows up in a community (village?) established by Surestart.

Brockbaby Sat 27-Nov-10 10:25:19


Is there a Mumsnet national campaign to save our Surestart Children's Centre?

Is there a Facebook page set up? Is there a petition out-there? If so, where is it??

Brockbaby Sat 27-Nov-10 10:36:29

Surestart Children's Centres are a lifeline EVERYWHERE in the UK

These centres should not be limited to deprived, inner-city areas. Post-natal depression, isolation and bewilderment at becoming a parent affects middle-class parents the same as it does working class parents.

I appreciate that the country is in huge debt and we need to make public spending cuts. I also believe in the "Big Society". I therefore make voluntary small monetary contributions to my local children's centre toddler classes and groups and I am now a volunteer parent helper.

I appreciate that some communities (but not all) run their own parent support networks - churches run toddler groups - local NCT coffee mornings and the like and that is fantastic but what make children's centres unique is that they are NEUTRAL. They are not affiliated to a church, you do not have to afford a big enough house to hold your share of the local NCT coffee mornings and the CC staff are trained to be diplomatic and non-judgemental. Our local CC is the only place where all members of the community come together.


earthworm Sat 27-Nov-10 16:55:57

I have a friend who works for Surestart and she tells me that the waste is staggering, and that some cuts are long overdue.

It was originally set up to support the most vulnerable, but as it has moved towards universal provision the costs have ballooned unsustainably.

I would put anything other than its core provision in the 'nice to have but not essential in a time of austerity' category.

She believes that everyone will still have access, but that the Surestart presence in some areas will be low key and there may not be a physical building (signposting to other services etc). There is also talk of charging for some non-essential services.

BiscuitNibbler Sat 27-Nov-10 17:15:23

Surestart has been brilliant in our area, and without it I wouldn't know anybody with children in our area. However, they have recently built a wonderful centre locally but only use it for three groups - once a fortnight for a dads' group, once a week for 10 people on a PEEPs One course and once a week for a childminders' group. The rest of the time as far as I can see it is empty, which is a huge waste. They do an Under-Ones group and a Stay & Play group in hired halls.

I really think Surestart has a valuable place in the community for all children (although only middle class children seem to use it in our area) however money is wasted and I think that needs to be addressed.

whoknowswhatthefutureholds Mon 29-Nov-10 13:02:52

I love my sstart, it has been a lifeline for me and many others that I know. Deffo would be behind a campaign.

madamimadam Mon 29-Nov-10 13:06:30

I'm another who would be completely behind a Sure Start campaign.

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