PARENTS VOW TO PROTEST THE FINAL CONSULTATION EVENT IN LOUGHBOROUGH ON WEDNESDAY 19th APRIL.
Leicestershire County Council’s Early Help Review draws to a close on Sunday 22nd April. The consultation proposes sweeping cuts to Early Help and earmarks 24 out of 36 Children’s Centres (previously known as Surestart centres) for closure in a move regarded by campaigners as extremely shortsighted and damaging.
Liz Blackshaw, a mum of two and a breastfeeding peer supporter who has volunteered at Children’s Centres for many years was so concerned by the level of the cuts that she helped to set up a campaign group ‘Save Our Children’s Centres – Leicestershire’ on Facebook.
She said “I just couldn’t believe the lack of foresight in these plans. The centres provide health visitor clinics, antenatal and postnatal classes as well as breastfeeding support, even some sexual health screening. Without them mothers and babies physical and mental health could be put at risk and NHS costs will rise.”
Alice Brennan, a parent who used the Children’s Centres regularly with her children and a coordinator for the action said “6pm in the evening is a dreadful time to hold consultation evenings for the parents of young children as they are generally putting their child to bed. Many parents just haven’t been able to go but we want the council to understand the strength of feeling so we will be protesting the last meeting in an attempt to show them. Anyone can join us, just turn up at the Roseby St Peter’s Centre on Storer Road at 5.30pm”
Maria Bagnall who is also a coordinator for the campaign group was moved to start a petition on 38 Degrees that now has well over 3000 signatures.
Maria said “It’s clear that a huge number of parents feel the same way as we do. It’s overwhelming sometimes to read the messages parents have left on the petition, the support they received at the centres not just from staff but from other parents they met there, really helped to turn their lives around. Becoming a parent is a massive transition and Children’s Centres help you and your child through it. We hope by presenting the council with the petition they will understand that parents really do care about their local centres”
Liz Yeates, mum and fellow campaigner said: “It’s not just the parents and children we are worried about. Jobs will be lost in these sweeping cuts and equally concerning is that in most cases the council will still have to keep paying for the buildings even though they are closed, worse the SureStart grants used to build them may be clawed back.”
Laurie Needham added that even if parents could not attend the consultation event there was still plenty of ways they could let the county council know their feelings
“Everyone has until Sunday the 22nd April, they can email [email protected], they can complete the consultation and sign the petition as well and we encourage everyone to do that.
“StopStart” A report published by the Sutton Trust earlier this month showed that over 1000 Surestart centres have closed nationally. Campaigners for ‘Save Our Children’s Centres Leicestershire” are determined Leicestershire should not to add to those figures, declaring
“No ifs, No buts, NO CHILDRENS CENTRE CUTS”.