If anyone had told me 5 years ago that I would be a single mum of 2, living miles away from my family and friends, not knowing a soul locally I would never have believed them. But it happened.
Everyone said it would be hard. And it was…..and it is……far harder than I expected at times.
Old friends say they could not imagine being able to do it. Without the support of family and friends they said they were sure they would go mad. So why have I not gone mad?
Crumbled at the toughest of times alone with a toddler and baby? Coping round the clock with the tantrums and meltdowns, the endless childhood illnesses that I always catch as well, the endless demands my children place on me…the endless demands I place on myself to be the best mum I can be….breastfeeding both children….never getting a break…how have I done it?
Sure Start gave me someone to talk to. Staff and other mums helped me to offload and gave me advice and support. It gave me a moment to sit down and have a cup of tea and catch my breath.
Then I could enjoy engaging with my children instead of sinking into depression.
I learnt new ways to engage with my children.
And my toddler painted and drew and played with fantastic toys, ran around outside playing on the mini cars and trucks, tumbled in the soft play area, listened to stories and read new books, mixed with other children from all walks of life and all backgrounds, all religions, all cultures.
Many of my old friends do not have a Sure Start in their area and perhaps that is why they cannot understand how I can cope with my situation.
If it wasn’t for Sure Start I wouldn’t have met people and wouldn’t have had the confidence to move forward and broaden my contacts to be able to settle here.
There are more single mums (and dads) now than ever before and more than ever with partners who work away (Army/Navy etc) and work longer hours too – so they feel like single mums a lot of the time! They need Sure Start.
Mums with post natal depression need Sure Start. Mums who are finding it hard to cope need Sure Start. Children need Sure Start.
It’s the one-stop solution to a million parenting problems, and it’s also a great place to go when things are going well too!
Sure Start was for everyone. It didn’t discriminate against people on benefits or people with a million quid in the bank. It brought community and social cohesion like no other facility.
In an era where a huge percentage of people don’t even know their neighbours, Sure Start could be the community hub for the 2000’s. Encourage people to book centres for children’s parties to make some money back. Have bring and buy sales, cake sales and ask for a small contribution to refreshments at groups if we really must make any charges.
But don’t destroy this wonderful resource we have that we should be so proud of. Build on it, evolve it, publicise its success stories to the MAX and pioneer it into something that any Government would WANT to support.
Thank you for reading