Friday, 14 January 2011

Sure Start Children's Centres

This is another one of my recommendations for a place to go with your little one to get out of the house and socialise with other mums. However just as I decided to write about it I read on Netmums about how local councils will be closing some of these centres down in a bid to cut money.

This doesn't surprise me really, as another one of my topics in recent weeks was about local libraries and the excellent Bookstart scheme (see blog post here). This is now being scrapped and so gradually one by one family resources are being cut to help council budgets that have been cut by the Government to help with the deficit.

Anyhow, I don't want to get too bogged down in political stuff here, while the Sure Start centres do exist I would wholeheartedly recommend new mums to visit their local one and check it out (and if you like it perhaps campaign to keep them open!). In the early days of having Isla, my NCT friends and I all attended a free 6 week baby massage course. The fact that this was free was fantastic to me as it was 45 minutes spent with my friends in a friendly environment with a qualified baby masseur. Our babies all enjoyed it in varying degrees (there was a fair amount of crying!) but we enjoyed having somewhere to go and have a catch up and increase our confidence with our newborn.

Since then a centre has opened just 5 minutes walk from me and lady luck smiled on me when they scheduled a Stay and Play session for Wednesday mornings, my day off! When Isla and I don't have other plans we only have to throw our coats on and walk round the corner for a new selection of toys, some messy play and in the summer a reasonably sized outdoor area to play in. All the kids play, the mums can have a chat and then at the end of the session everyone helps to tidy up and then there's a singing session to wind it up.

I really hope that my local centre isn't closed and local authorities realise that it isn't an option to cut these valuable resources from our communities. Sure Start Centres are useful for all sorts of reasons, amongst them:

- Helping young/ first time mums make contact with other mums
- Running courses and groups to help with parenting skills and increase confidence in new parents
- Free Toy Libraries

What are your thoughts on this? Will you be affected if there are closures?

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