Parents criticise county council for cuts to Sure Start centres

THE council does not understand how crucial Sure Start centres are to us.

Saturday, 12th March 2016, 6:14 am
Updated Saturday, 12th March 2016, 10:41 am
Parents from Gosport and Fareham (l-r) Gemma Blanks (32), Kirsty Wilson (32), Adam Darby (31), Rosalyn Fawcett (33) and Leanda Woodward (32) with their children outside The Haven Sure Start centre in Gosport.
Parents from Gosport and Fareham (l-r) Gemma Blanks (32), Kirsty Wilson (32), Adam Darby (31), Rosalyn Fawcett (33) and Leanda Woodward (32) with their children outside The Haven Sure Start centre in Gosport.

That is the message from concerned parents who say the closure of the centres to be replaced by one district hub would see many people suffer.

They have also criticised Hampshire County Council, which is proposing the closures as a cost-cutting measure – despite the authority setting aside £10,000 on a street party in Winchester for the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Single dad Adam Darby said The Haven Sure Start centre, in Gosport, helped him when he was trying to get custody for his children.

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Parents from Gosport and Fareham (l-r) Gemma Blanks (32), Kirsty Wilson (32), Adam Darby (31), Rosalyn Fawcett (33) and Leanda Woodward (32) with their children outside The Haven Sure Start centre in Gosport.

‘I was referred to the centre by social services who didn’t have the time or the man power to help me,’ he said.

‘I was going through the breakdown of a relationship and I was a mess. The Haven helped me with custody and if it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t have my kids. They way the explained things to me and helped me, kept me going.

‘There will be so much more strain on social services and the hub they are proposing if they close other centres.’

Sure Start centres give help and advice on child and family health, parenting, money, training and employment. Some centres also provide early learning and full daycare for pre-school children.

Parents from Gosport and Fareham (l-r) Gemma Blanks (32), Kirsty Wilson (32), Adam Darby (31), Rosalyn Fawcett (33) and Leanda Woodward (32) with their children outside The Haven Sure Start centre in Gosport.

Adam added: ‘The council just see figures and it is terrible they are spending £10,000 on a party. That could help parents who are isolated.’

Other parents who use The Haven, in Bridgemary, agree.

Kirsty Wilson, 32, said: ‘It is because of centres like these that we don’t need to rush off to A&E or call 111 because of a cough or rosy cheeks. The staff are all qualified and educated and they really help us with caring for our children.’

Gemma Blanks, 32, said: ‘People who attend the sessions are from all walks of life and it is a great way to socialise. I didn’t have any friends or family when I came to Gosport and they really help socialise the parents and the children.’