Why Sure Start?
Sure Start was introduced by the last Labour Government to support children under five and their families. A national network of almost 4,000 Children’s Centres was established offering a wide range of activities. Many provided childcare, but all offered access to health, education, parenting and employability support. Children’s Centres were also hubs for community outreach to ensure that the most disadvantaged members of the community benefited from Sure Start.
The Conservatives have starved Sure Start of funding which has been cut by almost half. The Tories also shifted focus to targeting ‘high need’ families, rather than open access to universal services. These changes have been shown by independent think-tank The Sutton Trust to be detrimental to early years development. Click here to read the ‘Stop Start’ report.
Sure Start was a highly valued service in Medway, but it has become unrecognisable to parents since the changes. The community based centres were close in order to open ‘hubs’ – many of which are too far to travel for parents who don’t drive or can’t afford public transport. A lack of funding has meant that the remaining centres cannot be serviced properly and parents, employees, and volunteers have come to us with security and safeguarding concerns.
What we did
We stood with parents on picket lines, supported parents and professionals with their campaign, and wrote an open letter to the leader of the council asking him to keep the centres open.
A Labour government will halt the Sure Start closures and increase the amount of money for Sure Start.
"The Tories blame central government funding cuts for the Sure Start closures, but they spent £60000 of savings from the children's budget on fireworks for the Battle of Medway celebrations. TheTories need to reassess their priorities." Cllr Clive Johnson, Councillor for Gillingham South and Labour Spokesperson for Children and Young People