Parents’ campaign to save children’s centre

Hilary King and parents at the Gomersal and Littletown SureStart centre have set up a petition calling for services at the centre to be protected from government and council cutbacks. (d02031142)
Hilary King and parents at the Gomersal and Littletown SureStart centre have set up a petition calling for services at the centre to be protected from government and council cutbacks. (d02031142)

PARENTS are warning that any cuts to children’s centres in Spen will leave families vulnerable and isolated.

As Kirklees tries to balance its books in the wake of government cutbacks of £83m over the next three years, a group of parents is urging the council to protect the SureStart centres.

A group from the Gomersal and Littletown centre, at St Mary’s School in Gomersal, has begun a petition and will be holding a peaceful protest outside the centre on Wednesday March 16.

Spokeswoman Hilary King said: “All we know is that there is to be a review of the services for the children’s centres and nurseries, so all we are hearing is rumours, but if they decide to merge centres then something is going to be cut.

“We are calling on Kirklees to save our centre from cutbacks and changes which would leave families more vulnerable and isolated.

“It is a valuable contact point for families, providing a range of activities such as Stay and Play sessions, where children build attachments and parents make new friends and enjoy activities together, learn how to share, communicate and socialise.

“There is also the One Stop Shop, with health visitors, baby weigh in, ante-natal, job centre plus, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Children and Families Information Service, Domestic Violence Support and support for post natal depression.

“In addition there are outreach services from family support workers, a young parents’ group, return to learning courses, Money- wise and much more.

“If some of these services are cut, it will have a huge impact on families, their lives and their children’s future.

“The children’s centre was a lifeline to me, I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my son, Lewis, and the centre helped me with my anxiety and panic attacks. It got me back my life, I went on courses and am now doing voluntary work.

“There are so many people it has helped, not least the children because it’s vital we get it right for them, and from a personal point of view I would not be where I am now, were it not for the SureStart centre.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “The drastic cut in government funding means that all councils must look for potential reductions in expenditure.

“Most areas of the council are being reviewed, including within services for children and young people.

“Proposals for children’s centres are part of the wider consideration being given to the overall financial position and the council intends to establish revised models of working, alongside other council services.

“We are now reviewing the position in terms of how best to deliver services from children’s centres as the funding has decreased.

“As yet there have been no decisions taken regarding closures.”