“My local Sure Start Centre is very important to me and the whole community. It plays a vital role in shaping my child and offers a positive environment.” – Maryam
Sure Start was introduced by the last Labour Government to support children under five and their families. A national network of almost 4,000 Children’s Centres was established offering a wide range of activities. Many provided childcare, but all offered access to health, education, parenting and employability support. As well as being one-stop-shops for families seeking a helping hand, Children’s Centres were also hubs for community outreach to ensure that the most disadvantaged members of the community benefited from Sure Start.
There is clear evidence that supporting children in the Early Years is the surest way to broaden their opportunities in later life. But in the UK, Early Years support has historically been patchy – with deprived areas least likely to have access to quality provision. Sure Start was a huge step in rectifying this situation.
Sadly the current Government has halved funding for Sure Start. As a result over 800 Centres have closed. More will follow. Many Centres which remain have been hollowed out by cuts and are now little more than shells.
This is a tragedy. Sure Start cuts deny essential services to hundreds of thousands of families – and they deprive today’s babies and toddlers of future life chances.