Sure Start transforms lives forever. It is one of Labour’s greatest ever achievements and it is under brutal attack by the Tories. Labour Friends of Sure Start believes that the future of our Children’s Centres should be a key issue in this Leadership contest. So we wrote to every candidate for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Party asking their vision for Sure Start. We are publishing their responses this week. Today it is the turn of Deputy Leadership candidate Ben Bradshaw.
Sure Start was one of the proudest achievements from Labour’s time in government. Founded on the guiding principle of ‘no child left behind’, it has been at the heart of communities across the country, working to better the life chances of our children.
I believe Sure Start is a perfect example of what we should stand for as a Labour Party. They are a success story of empowerment. I have seen in Exeter the difference to families these hubs or ‘one-stop-shops’ have had, not only with children but also with parents. Whole families’ lives are transformed by the accessibility and focus Sure Start provides; with services from financial guidance to childcare opening doors many never knew even existed.
It becomes more and more apparent that early years are a crucial time to act, with significant differences in life chances between children from different backgrounds. Early intervention through services such as Sure Start can make the difference between a child getting on in life, or struggling to even get through school.
It is a lifeline for children and parents alike. For many they are the only helping hand, during that pioneering time between the last health visit and the first day of school. They bridge an important gap.
However, we’ve also seen how that bridge is starting to crumble. I’ve seen in Exeter the impact of the cuts over the last few years, threatening to take us back a generation and facing having to start all over again. This is a critical time for the future of Sure Start, and I am glad to see Labour Friend’s of Sure Start invested in training activists to defend our centers.
Sure Start must be high on our agenda as the Opposition. We must call out cuts to services, hours, and places. However, we must also look to the future. What shape should Sure Start be in 2020, and what needs must it meet? I am confident with Labour Friends of Sure Start, and colleagues, we can keep it an achievement with pride.
Photo source: National Archives