I have mentioned several times about how much I love my local Surestart centre and, without having much family living nearby, I dont know how I would have got through the early years of my children’s lives without it! I have met so many life long friends from baby massage, breastfeeding groups, messy play, park activities and family fun days to mention a few of the many activities they offer.

By law local authorities have to provide a SureStart service, but the extent to which they are doing is being threatened as the funding is no longer ring fenced. I decided to get involved in their volunteering scheme and recently did a six week course where you learn more about the Sure Start centres, what they do and how you can contribute. The informative sessions were mixed with lots of fun, humour and group involvement. With all of the recent government cutbacks they rely on volunteers to assist staff and enable the groups they offer to continue to run effectively. I cannot stress strongly enough how important I think such groups are to all new parents!

Anyway, I feel like I got lots out of the course and met some really lovely mums in the same position. It was interesting to hear everyone’s motivations for doing the course. Some wanted it to lead to a new career, get some experience and new skills or just to get out of the house!

The other thing that struck me was the different “place” everyone was coming from. Some has childcare experience they wanted to build on, others has an interest in a particular area and some didn’t really know what they wanted to do, just something. That I think is the beauty of Surestart, parents from different backgrounds, education level and upbringings all finding a common interest – the welfare and happiness of their children.

Do you have a Surestart provision near you? What have been your experiences of it?

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9 Responses to Giving something back – Volunteering at SureStart

  1. Michelle says:

    Hi Louise – and all the other respondants……

    I’m a Community Development Worker at one of the Children’s Centres that Louise referred to in her original blog and have know Louise for the last 5 years since she attended with her oldest son.

    It’s great to hear all the positive feedback and the difference it’s made to you all – that’s what we’re here for but we don’t always realise the massive impact Sure Start as a whole are having.

    I love my job and it’s great working with all the different families we come across and seeing how they and their children develop over the years. I know not everybody is lucky enough to have a passion for their 9-5 (plus!!!) but, for me, it’s that corny old phase ‘I can make a difference’ that keeps me going.

    So spread the word, get involved and tell your Children’s Centre the difference their service has made to you. (a written account can be used in evidence to the people with the money and clout!)

  2. Jo says:

    We’re heading out to our SureStart centre in an hour for messy play, and it’s a lifesaver. I have a few friends in the area, but none locally – and I’m hoping this is where I’ll meet other mums who H will end up going to school with in a year and a half.

    The staff there are all so lovely and helpful, there’s loads of activities (including some Men Behaving Dadly ones on a weekend for dads and kids), and now the weather is getting better, loads of outdoor play for those of us with small play areas outside (if any!)

  3. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) says:

    I have a centre near me – great resource – I always try to take Little A to the singing and dancing sessions.

  4. Bex says:

    I love my local surestart and have made some amazing friends there, I blogged about it at

    http://themummyadventure.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/mummy-friends.html

  5. Kylie @kykaree says:

    Surestart is so important, they won Best Children’s Activity Provider at the Tommy’s Awards last week.

    My centre that I attended when Joseph was born held baby groups and baby massage. The outreach worker identified that I was really struggling to come to terms with Joseph’s premature birth, and advised me to go to the GP, I was subsequently diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder. My outreach worker was there for me at all times and visited me weekly. She is still there now nearly 3 years on if I have a meltdown.

    I have since moved house and my new one is amazing, heavily reduced fruit and veggie boxes, amazing classes, I am currently doing knitting and numeracy, and lots of toddler groups.

    I’d be dead without my surestart centre. The HV team completely let us down, and I would have completely gone to pieces without them.

    Surestart sadly does not exist in Scotland.

    • louisejedwards says:

      I’m so pleased to hear of your positive experience if surestart after sych a stressful time. I think hv’s and health professionals in general can feel stretched and not that supportive which is why these centres are vital. I forgot about the courses too – they are fab! I did jewellery making, sugarcraft, nail art, kids fancy dress to name a few – for a small charge and with excellent free child care!

  6. Susan Mann (@susankmann) says:

    I don’t think we have these here in Scotland, i know I’ve not heard of them. Sounds really good though x

    • louisejedwards says:

      I’m not sure tbh Susan. In England they are mainly targeted at “deprived” areas though anyone can use them. We are really lucky as have 4 great ones a short drive away. They are mainly aimed at under 5s but I hear that will be changing up to 12 years old so that will be great. X

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