My number one top priority if elected as MP for South Swindon next week is to bring back Sure Start Children’s Centres to Swindon. We are the only town to have closed them all.
Sure Start is a way to engage with families early. I used Sure Start when my eldest two children were 2 ½ and 6 months old and my husband was away on operations with the Army. Being a parent has its moments of being really tough, and having informal access to drop in services and then additional levels of support when needed means that small problems can be addressed before they turn into huge issues.
The Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE) project ran from 2009 until 2015. Results concerning the impact of (the subsequently termed) Sure Start Children’s Centres (SSCCs) concluded that, “Children’s Centres set up to support parents of young children can improve the mental health of mothers and functioning of families but that these benefits are being eroded by cuts.”.
Early intervention can catch Post-natal depression before a new mum might have taken herself to the GP. Health visitors and other professionals can use a light touch at the right moment to keep families on track so that there is no need for onward referral.
In 2019, a study conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that Sure Start reduced the numbers of people taken to hospital, and saved millions of pounds for the National Health Service.
Labour has committed to opening 1000 more Sure Start Children’s Centres, and I will be lobbying hard to bring these back to Swindon where we need them so desperately.