I currently feel so passionate about writing this post to explain to others how much of a positive impact our local children’s centres have had on our family. Without this service I’m not sure where we’d be at with our family life right now.
Worcestershire County Council are proposing 1.5 million cuts to local children’s centre services. I have found that accessing these centres have been vital to both myself, and other parents I have spoken to in the past 5 years that I have accessed local children’s centres. I went to Saffron in Worcester for my Antenatal appointments with my first child, born in March 2012. I used to be the baby room leader at the centre in Tudor Way, Dines Green. This centre shared a building with the day nursery I worked for and offered a crèche service for the children of parents attending courses at Tudor Way. When my second child was born in March 2015, we had only just moved to the Evesham area, I found it quite isolating and found it difficult to make friends. I attended the baby stay and play at Orchard Vale centre and found the staff extremely supportive and the other new mothers so friendly. This was a huge step for me as I struggle with self-confidence and I had just found out that my child had additional needs so a supportive group such as Orchard Vale was vital at that time. When we moved house to the Pershore area, I accessed the centre at Blossom Vale. This centre offered me the most support and without this my family wouldn’t be functioning as we are today.
I would like to explain my experiences of the Blossom Vale Centre, Pershore in more detail:
I currently attend with my 16 month old daughter:
- Tiny Turtles swimming sessions at our local swimming pool at Rivers, Pershore, run by the children’s centre.
- ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ 0-18 months music session at Pershore library.
- We have taken part in ‘Sensory Madness’ and ‘Toddle Along’ courses with my daughter.
- We accessed the crèche in the centre whilst I attended ‘Triple P’ and ‘Family Links’ parenting courses.
- I have been invited to attend an additional needs parents forum and a talk about Autism run through Autism West Midlands.
- My partner has attended the Father’s groups with our 4-year-old.
- In July 2015 our health visitor referred us to family support as we were having a very difficult time at home coping with our child’s behaviour, whom has additional needs. In June 2016 I self-referred back to Family Support. Due to the forthcoming transition from Pre school to school as my 4-year-old finds changes and transitions particularly unsettling.
The benefits of attending children’s centre groups and sessions are that it’s a welcoming environment to talk to other parents, especially if you are a socially awkward and un-confident parent as I am myself. My partner struggles socially and he felt at ease to chat to other fathers at the ‘Dad’s group’ sessions. The staff at the centre are so helpful, they are aware that my eldest child has difficulties with her behaviour at home and when attending sessions they take the time to check in and ask if everything is ok at home. Without groups such as those mentioned above I fear that many other parents will be completely lost and isolated, especially first time mothers, who find that support from talking to other new mothers in the same situation, its such a relief to find that you’re not alone in what your are currently going through, whether this be problems with feeding, colic, sleeping, etc.
The most beneficial service for our family by far has been that of Family Support. I felt like an alien to everyone when I found out that my child had additional needs, I felt like the only parent in the world going through this. Our daughter, now 4, had extreme meltdowns which escalated after her sister was born in March 2015. Her behaviour was unbearable at home, she would scream, shout, throw items at me and was very rough with her younger sister. When our family support worker first came into our home, we were without a diagnosis for my daughter’s difficulties, I blamed myself as a parent and I was extremely low in myself. Our family support worker was able to finish a course of ‘Family Links’ parenting course that I’d be unable to carry on with due to problems in pregnancy, we talked about acceptable behaviours as my daughter has no awareness of dangers, we discussed tactics of how my daughter could keep calm, including breathing techniques and I was offered support and advice on using strategies such as ‘Visual Timetables’ and ‘Social Stories.’ The family support worker helped me gain confidence in my ability as a parent and helped my partner with self-esteem strategies. Without this service my family would be completely and utterly lost, we wouldn’t have been able to function or carry on. As we are currently at the beginning of the school summer holidays I’m unsure as to whether we we actually gain any more family support, as my daughter is on the way to a more thorough diagnosis and has already been recognised as having Sensory Processing Disorder, with traits of ADHD and Autism. Her behaviour has recently spiralled, she is bigger and stronger than when we first accessed family support and faces the transition between Pre school, then the school holidays, then starting First school. She finds changes very unsettling and we are currently experiencing up to 10 extreme meltdowns per day.
I feel so devastated that services like these mentioned could be cut, and centres even closed, my fear is that there are so many other parents out there who have and who are experiencing the same as we have in the past 2 years, where will these people go to for support?
In those times when someone is totally and utterly desperate will more parents be faced with visits from social services when all they need is someone like a family support worker to pick them up and tell them everything is going to be ok?
Thank You for your time,
Worcestershire Parent and Blogger at Sensory Sensitive Mummy.