What's happening with your local Children's Centres?(10 Posts)
Apologies if this is not the right thread - happy to take advice on where else to post this.
I'm part of a campaign group in Oxfordshire and we are trying to stop the Council closing all of our 44 Children's Centres. We are really keen to find out what is happening in other parts of the country and would really appreciate if you could let us know the following.
1. Have any or all Children's Centres in your area closed or are threatened with closure?
2. Have the Children's Centres in your areas reduced the services they offer (typically they move from offering universal services, i.e. services that everyone can access to targeted services, i.e. services you have meet certain criteria for and have to be referred to).
3. Are you aware of any other campaigns/protest groups that support Children's Centres that we could get in touch with? It doesn't matter if the campaign was ultimately successful or not - we want to learn from other people's experiences.
Please share widely if you can.
Thanks in advance.
I'm sorry that this isn't an answer to your question - I'm in Oxfordshire and have been trying to work out how I can help the campaign! What can I do?
I think that in our area (Northamptonshire), the Children's centres now only deal with families that need extra help, while the slack has been picked up by local libraries. My baby was born in Jan and to begin with I took him to the centres to be weighed, did my antenatal classes there etc, but it all changed over the summer.
I like going to the libraries for stay and play, rhymetime etc but I know there has been a lot of concern about the change. This is from the local paper and sums it up better than me!
Our local centre is closing, I'm in no way surprised though. It was never overly friendly and had a group of about four women who show up to everything without their children ('to help') and just gossip about anyone who turns up. It's a shame they are closing in general though.
That's great, there is loads that you can !
Join our Facebook campaign group or page or visit our website www.saveocc.org for more information in general.
In particular we need people to write to their MPs/councillors, reject the proposals in the consultation (there will be guidance on how to complete the consultation on the website), speak to their local Children's centre and join locality meetings, and join our protest march on 14 Nov (1pm Bonn Square). There is a campaign meeting today in Oxford at 1pm, but suspect that might be a little short notice ;)
I'm a bit out of date as haven't been going regularly since I started back at work, but in the mid beds area I can confirm that April this year they stopped all groups that weren't targeted to either geography, under 1 or medical element.
In Bucks they are closing some but not all, and prioritising the ones that are near/on schools.
I'm not far from you, in Reading.
Our centres have merged, rather than closed. They now operate as "clusters", so the staff travel between several degrees in their clusters. They are still open to all, but I would say the staff are more rushed now so groups end abruptly. Our children's centres also house the community midwives, breastfeeding supporters, health visitors many of whom are also mobile within the clusters. This has kept them very well attended as everyone with a child uses them for something.
West Berkshire are also considering big cuts. It's a worry that so many families from all backgrounds may soon struggle to access the support they need.
I'm in Reading as well. Lucky that I have a centre in my village but they have greatly reduced the opening hours and I think the manager is split between three centres in total. They still offer the two main sessions I attended so I think maybe the reductions happened in the other centres she manages.
Its a shame but I am back at work now and my 18mo will be an only child so there is little need for the centre in my life now.
Ours have formed into clusters and reduced opening hours but that's about it. Frankly I would give minimal shits if our local one closed these days apart from one fab staff member - the others who walk through and stare at the parents like they're zoo exhibits on the way into the office make it really really offputting and I got bloody sick of being bugged to sign these little pledges to never ever have a cuppa or cigarette or swear word within the same postcode as your child that were utterly fucking pointless condescending shite. It's also been really nastily colonised by a nice little middle-class clique who met at breastfeeding group and delight in running any mothers they deem to be "rough" (ie probably well within the target demographic for the centre) or bottle feeding out of the centre and the staff won't tackle the sometimes very overt bullying (I've reported it on occasions) for fear of being accused of being "anti-breastfeeding".
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