A brilliant piece by Catherine Ovenden, of Hampshire Save our Sure Start.
Investing in young families through universal, inclusive, early intervention saves lives, saves money, changes the aspirations of many children and helps us to be the best parents we can be, in our local community. This is backed by evidence, both quantitative and qualitative.
‘Need’ is not determined by financial situation, political persuasion, family make-up, marital status or ANY other measurable index. ANYONE can be in need. ALL families need support with parenting. SureStart offers this universal support and as such is excellent value for money.
I genuinely do understand the financial pressures that Councils in England are under, but by investing in SureStart you would be a Council that is looking into the future of the County and could even take credit for preventing many costly problems from ever occurring. Surely it is better for everyone for you to be a proactive rather than a reactive council?
I absolutely support that money should be there for vulnerable children who need to be cared for. However, there is also a lot of truth in the idea that you could help prevent at least some of those parents and children from reaching crisis point and becoming vulnerable, by supporting ALL families and investing in their futures.
I have been told on many occasions through the rollercoaster of our campaign that I should ‘get a thicker skin’. However, by not having a thick skin I have been able to listen to and understand the views of families from all walks of life.
The Dad who is away at sea for much of the year, who values the specialist Dad’s Play sessions run at weekends to help him bond with his children.
The Mum who lost her husband to ill health and copes alone with her children.
The widowed Grandmother who found herself volunteered to help care for her Grandchildren while her Son and Daughter-in-law went to work, and at 67 felt isolated and alone with two young children.
The family whose child has special educational needs and endures daily challenges.
The Mum who has to cope alone with the strains of looking after both her young family and her elderly and infirm parents.
The Mum who suffered horrendous post-natal depression and relied on her SureStart Centre for support, while everyone around her was busy at work.
The family, who were themselves raised on junk food, who have now been educated and trained to cook simple, healthy, cost effective family meals for their children.
The Mum who was raised with her parents telling her that she was rubbish and would never achieve, who, thanks to a confidence course and support group run by her centre, has just found the inner confidence to apply for her first job.
The Dad, who attended the first aid and baby resuscitation course which enabled him to feel confident enough to be left alone with his two small children.
The child who mixes with all children in their community from the day they are born and starts school with confidence, having already got over a lot of the bugs that come with starting to mix in large groups of children; who has a thirst and excitement for knowledge and an understanding of what it means to be part of a community.
They ALL need your support. They all need SureStart.