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?