Wednesday, 8 January 2014


In this current climate, it's inevitable that cuts are made. They can not be avoided, there is no doubt about that.

It still hurts when you are hit with said cuts however and today, we were.

Ever since F was a few weeks old, we have used our local children's centre. It has been a place where I've made friends, sought advice and even a haven when this thing we call parenting got too much. 

When I moved into the area, I had no friends who were local. My two best friends live a 30 minute drive away and neither have children yet so my local area could have potentially been a sad place. There was potential for loneliness, isolation and the depths of postnatal depression but luckily, it was there. 

I haven't used all of it's resources as I've had no need but I do know it's a lifeline for people who may have postnatal depression, for those with debt problems, relationship issues or who just need that helping hand.

We have used it predominantly for the social aspect but most of all, for Freddie development. We did baby massage at 6 weeks, tiny tots and baby bundle. We've enjoyed classes and courses and even and 'school trip'. These classes were structured, organised, planned and run by a professional. 

That's what I love about them. That they are specially designed for our children with education and development in mind.

Use a playgroup you may say? Yes we could but I find that Freddie is still a little too young. He doesn't do well with free play yet, he throws things and gets in the way of other, older children. He prefers structured activities with an outcome, where he's supported and stimulated. This may be because of my educational background or my insane need to control and for routine but I appreciate the classes at children's centres. I credit them for my son's advanced milestones, for his development, for his social skills and in part, his happiness.

At a playgroup there isn't much for a baby to do. For mothers who aren't very creative or imaginative it can be hard to think of things to do to aid their babies development. Classes at children's centres help in this. They teach parents how to teach their children and how to help them learn vital skills in their early skills. 

Our centre is being affected because of council cuts. It is going to be an 'outreach centre' which in affect, is an empty building with a receptionist who can prompt you to other services in other areas. No classes, no professional, no life.

It won't be what we're used to. It won't be what we want and what our children currently love.

We are meant to be grateful that the building remains open. This is of no use to my son, that he can access debt advice by going to ask the receptionist to make a phone call for him. 

Why have we been affected? Because of our postcode. We live in a 'nice' area with low levels of poverty. We have paid a premium for our postcode. Many work hard to afford to pay this premium and allow our children to be brought up in this area.

Why should our children be punished because of our desire to raise them in an area where they are safe?

I understand that we don't have a high level of need for debt advice or back to work help. Many don't need help with alcohol problems and the majority are willing to attend, they aren't typical 'hard to reach' families. These are parents that appreciate and enjoy these centres. They value them and are grateful. 

This is shown in the attendance figures. All classes are oversubscribed. Parents in this area aren't hard to reach. They are here, they are wanting their child to be immersed in this. 

They are getting punished. 

I'm not getting into politics as to be honest, I don't really understand it. I understand cuts need to be made. I understand we don't have enough money. They are keeping our centres open that are in more deprived areas. The areas were there is more young parenting, drug and alcohol misuse, crime levels and poverty. I am all for supporting these people. All for it. 

But what about postnatal depression? What about supporting mothers who need that additional help. I'm not sure on exact figures but just because the people who live in my area have more money, doesn't mean they aren't affected by this. Why should they be discriminated against? 

We could access services in other areas but not in our community. I'm lucky, I drive. Some mothers don't. They may have to take several bus journeys to get to these with may isolate them further. They are also cutting staff numbers so the classes will be practically inaccessible because there will be one centre dealing with the demands of four or five communities.

What I do understand is that I am upset. I am mourning the service not just for Freddie but for my future children. Our children's centre was a massive part of Fred's first year. 

It would be for any other of my children.

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