13 July 2017

Parents urged to have their say over planned cuts to “vital” children’s services across Sutton, which safeguard the town’s most vulnerable families

Public Meeting: 10am, Monday 17 July, Mere Green Community Centre 

My child has been immensely supported and it would be an outcry to take this away. Children are our future – we need to invest in their future mental and emotional well being for later in life,” Children’s Centre user.

Five popular children’s centres in Sutton Coldfield are facing closure and a reduction in services following major changes to nursery and early years provision across Birmingham.

Under the new proposals, the Deanery, Four Oaks Green and Bush Babies Children’s Centres could shut their doors for good. New Hall Children’s Centre would be open all year round and Holland House Children’s Centre would offer sessional activities.

A range of services would be provided at various venues across the town. But leaders at the Sutton Locality Children’s Centres, which runs the five centres, are concerned about the impact the proposed changes will have on baby clinics, antenatal classes and post-natal classes and how the new arrangements will be delivered to meet the needs of local people. Some areas of Sutton would have limited access to services due to limited public transport arrangements.

As part of its public consultation, Birmingham City Council is hosting several public forums over the next few weeks to ask parents who use the facilities, which venues should open or close and their preferred opening times.  Because the Sutton Coldfield forum falls in the school holidays, Sutton Locality Children’s Centres is holding its own meeting on Monday July 17 at 10am at Mere Green Community Centre, and is calling on parents, councillors and Andrew Mitchell MP to support their local centres.  Birmingham City Council have now confirmed that Council Officers will  also attend this meeting

Sue Bailey, strategic lead for Sutton Coldfield Locality Children’s Centres and assistant headteacher at Arthur Terry School, said:

Mrs Sue Bailey

These cuts will really hit our familiesThe proposals would see some long established and very successful services close and venues that have become very popular in terms of delivering health services, no longer in use. Coupled with another substantial budget cut, this will mean a reduction in the support given to our families. 

“The proposals outlined show a lack of understanding of our community needs This local consultation is an opportunity for families to find out more about the proposals and have their say . We fully appreciate the need to have services located in our areas of most need, but we are concerned about access due to limited public transport arrangements to some centres and an uneven distribution of services across Sutton.” 

The Sutton Locality Children’s Centres aim to provide access to a wide range of services and information for parents and families with an  under five , to ensure every child gets the best start in life. They work closely with a wide range of partners – NHS, schools, nurseries, libraries, voluntary organisations, churches and community groups.

Richard Gill CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), which holds Governance for the Children’s Centres, added:

The Children’s Centres make such an important contribution to the whole safeguarding agenda which makes Sutton Coldfield a safer place. The vast majority of under threes are seen by early years professionals from the team. A reduction in services could result in missed opportunities to safeguard our most vulnerable. Our Family Support team has worked with 99 families last year with a range of needs and from across all parts of Sutton: domestic violence, housing, alcohol and drug misuse, post-natal depression and isolation, to name a few.

Therefore, all involved have major concerns about how a reduction in services will impact on the many families who rely on what the Children’s Centres provide and we are calling on the support of parents and stakeholders to ensure these services are not reduced so we can continue to meet their needs.

We would encourage parents to read the proposals, think about what services they want in Sutton and where, and then complete the consultation.”

One concerned parent said:

To get from Boldmere with my twins in a double buggy to New Hall would be almost impossible. I have no car and this journey would involve at least two buses and a long walk. I also have my older child to walk to nursery and to collect.”

Another said:

My eldest is on the autistic spectrum and I have used the Children’s Centre for support when I was struggling and I had help with childcare and a  parenting course really helped me view his behaviour in a positive way.”

One user describes the Children’s Centres as “a vital service.”

 A safe haven for families, a vital service. This is especially important for mums who find themselves lonely. I am speaking from experience as my mum passed away when I was six months pregnant and I suffered from post natal depression.”

The consultation document can be found at www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/people-1eyconsultation  Paper copies are also available at all our centres and activities and available on the 17th.

There will also be a number of open forum events.

Date Time District Location
10 July 10:30 am -12;30pm Erdington Erdington Library
18th July 10:30 am -12:30 pm Perry Barr Alexander Stadium
1st August 10:30 am– 12;30 pm Sutton Coldfield Mere Green Community Centre

Following the end of the consultation – on August 19 – views recommendation will be made to the BCC cabinet in September on how services will be delivered.

Anybody wishing to find out more, should email Sue Bailey at: sbailey@arthurtery.bham.sch.uk or via Sutton Locality Children’s Centres’ Facebook page.

Sutton Locality Children’s Centres run the following programmes:

Parent responses to the value of Children’s Centres services and BCC proposals (via survey and video) 

 

Should be good parking at locations or access to public transport e.g. near a railway station.

Must support carers and parents of children especially those who are disabled or isolated. 

Although I drive my children are at school and travelling back and forth would be costly and time consuming. I prefer to stay local near my children at nursery and school in case I am needed. My children have some health and counselling issues.

There are parents in his area, including me, who need targeted support from this venue where I have felt comfortable and received the most support.

As a new mum they offered a lot of support and services particularly breastfeeding. Now as a Childminder it is invaluable I have got so much support and training. 

 I came from India eight years ago now. I have two kids. I found out about Toy Library and I went in with my father in law first time as my language is not really good.  My daughter learns lots there, it’s helped my daughter and she starts school now.

The Children’s Centre was a lifeline as the nurturing environment when I moved when my youngest was eight months old and we attended the Toy Library and made new friends.

The Children’s Centre continues to enrich our life every week. I am now a volunteer.

 I had my first child when I was 16 years old. Fortunately the Children’s Centre was in walking distance which meant I could get there and I have had opportunities for further education for myself and I’ve just completed a Level 2 Maths Course at the Hub.