Earlier this year there was a consultation carried out regarding Early Years & Childrens Centres and how early families should be involved offered support.
I wanted to share my response to the consultation to show you what I stand for and believe in this area - and if elected what I will fight for for the residents of Desborough.
I welcome attempts to create a coherent experience for families.
The consultation states that it is not concerned with mainstream services but it is not clear whether the services listed in the grid are considered mainstream or not, and whether paperwork would be needed for all of them. Many of these services could be offered from local libraries or children centres. A PCSO does visit Desborough library already and this is available to everyone.
The exception is breastfeeding support. I would like to point out that it is a technical skill which often needs to be learned, as well as an emotional demand.I understand one on one support is still available but the local group in Desborough has ceased and it concerns me that this is seen as an option not a right. When I arrived in Desborough with a new baby three years ago, I was offered one to one support and attendance at a group which operated from the sure start centre. There is now no group in Desborough and I imagine other more rural locations are in the same boat.
Levels of breastfeeding is low in Britain and lower in Kettering borough that normal, having declined in the last few years. The absence of a supportive local group seems to me a clear factor in this. The health benefits to Babies of Breastfeeding are clearly documented. Mixed groups of mothers for this purpose are not really practical as it is not everyone's choice to breastfeed.
The Library is supportive, but there is no private space in which to hold a weekly group and I understand the other factor to be about the lack of resource to provide an experienced worker to facilitate.
I think these factors need to be addressed, in the interests of maintaining and increasing opportunities for children and mothers to breastfeed, and I'm sure the problem of finding a room somewhere is easy to overcome, if a worker were provided. I really think group work needs to be re-established to overcome an often negative national culture.
Locations seems to be glossed over in this consultation, but travel costs and the effort of getting small children to an out of town location is a significant disincentive and barrier. Good to see Creche facilities offered, what help will be available for travel costs?
Will there be any specialist knowledge of mental health and addiction either within or available to the keyworker group? These things need and can respond to early intervention and often go along with the other issues.
The lack of a private local space is likely to most affect interventions around domestic abuse, where the parent (even the abusing parent) may be in the early stages of disclosure, some though needs to go into creating a network of family friendly locations in the smaller towns/villages where safe confidential one to one work can take place outside the home location. I would like to stress once again this is not possible from the Desborough library, however accommodating the staff are.
I hope the responses have been helpful and thank you to all those of you committed to delivering services to families.