Family hubs in Portsmouth 'secure' as council agrees to ring-fence vital cash

‘VITAL’ support for the city’s most ‘needy’ will be protected as politicians agreed to ring-fence funding for family hubs.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 6:00 am
Volunteers pictures at a family hub in Portsmouth in 2018. Pictured is Lynda O'Connor, one of Homes Starts' volunteers, and Sam Tomlinson from Home Start. Picture: Liam OConnor

Cash for Portsmouth's six family hubs, formerly Sure Start centres, that provide services to high needs families will be guaranteed going forward following a slew of cuts several years ago that saw services nationwide massively reduced.

A debate on the centres came after Councillor Claire Udy, of the Progressive Portsmouth People group, called on her colleagues at Portsmouth City Council to secure their future.

Speaking at a full council meeting she said: 'Sure Start means a lot to me personally and to many families and people in the city.

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'I wasn't a particularly politically minded person on issues locally before I decided to have children. I had my first child in 2015 when this wonderful thing was being torn to shreds by the government and local authority.

'Family hubs are absolutely vital in Portsmouth. As much as I would love to put more money into them I would make the point that we need to ring-fence the money that is going in.'

Her fellow group member Cllr Jeanette Smith agreed. She said: 'Funding for the family hubs must be maintained at the current level. If we do otherwise and use them as a budget saver this city will suffer as a result.'

For Labour Cllr Tom Coles the services had played an important part in his life.

'On a personal note, I doubt I would today have my wife with me without the help and support of the Sure Start programme in Portsmouth, as she struggled with post-natal depression following the birth of our first daughter,' he said.

'Through groups and meeting with the health professionals at the centres she was able to not only overcome this, but to develop and become one of the strongest, socially powerful women I know.'

However, Tory Cllr Luke Stubbs, had some concerns. He said: 'In general the principal of ring-fencing is a bad idea. Creating artificial budget restraints will make the budget even harder to manage. It is not a good idea.'

Councillors voted unanimously to secure the cash.

Family hubs can be found in Buckland, Somers Town, Landport, North Parade, Paulsgrove and Milton Park.