Children centre service closures spark anger of Stoke-on-Trent mums

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Concerned Stoke-on-Trent mums have expressed their anger following the recent closures of children centre services due to budget cuts.

The support services offered by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council are under scrutiny from mums who feel that not enough is being done to support theirs and their children’s needs.

Candi Chetwynd, Councilor for Ford Green and Smallthorne, has campaigned tirelessly against the closures of children centres and has explained how she feels they will have a dramatic impact on the public.

She said: “There is a massive social change that’s happened with the budget, the terrible disaster of cutting of services for children centres has cut so many people out, especially as so many people are going to need these services.

“The NHS are going to feel the brunt of this, and as mothers can’t interact with other mothers, this will impact socially.

“Fundamentally we’re trying to bid for City of Culture 2021, yet we are cutting services to the most vulnerable. I think that’s an absolute disgrace.”

Sarah and her children

Sarah France, 27, from Biddulph, also sees the closures of local services as a burden to mums who need a break from their daily life.

Sarah said: “There seems to be less and less support for mums in the community due to funding.

“A lot of support groups are now run by the community, which is nice, as other mums have taken it upon themselves to help each other, but it is such a shame that a lot are closing down.”

The services that are due to be closed down advise parents with healthy eating, getting back to work, and other sessions that will help their children with speech difficulties.

There have also been a number of job cuts within the children centres.

Demi Pace, 25, from Norton, is in her final trimester with her first child and is unsure of what support is available to her.

She said: “Mums have been coping with being mums for thousands of years and I guess everyone copes in different ways. It depends on how maternal or caring you are as a person, but because I’ve not had my baby yet I don’t know what type of a support system I would like other than my husband.”

Cllr Chetwynd added: “I think society needs to be changing and evolving towards supporting people who want to become parents. At the end of the day this is how the world carries on. Why should it be that this kind of mentality is dictating when people make that life choice.

“I regret not becoming a mother sooner, not having the courage to compliment being a mother and having a career and making both things work together.”

A Stoke-on-Trent City Council spokesman said: “We have made great efforts to protect the city’s 16 children’s centres. In recent years, we have experienced very significant budget pressures due to reductions in central government funding – impacting on all our services.

“The total budget for Early Years and Child Care Services, including children’s centres, is £3.5m in 2016-17. For 2017-2018 we need to reduce this by £1m. As a result, some changes are required to how we deliver services while ensuring that enough support is available citywide.

“While no children’s centres will close, we are proposing to move services from four centres to nearby locations. Many services will continue to be offered, although play and learning services will be substantially redesigned and we will not be able to offer the range of universal services that are currently provided.”

 

 

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