Children’s centres….the government listens.

In Nigeria everything a parent does for a child is expensive and self funded. The government plays no part in helping parents or kids. There are no free parks, no free recreational centres and definitely no free medical aids. Your child, you and your families sole responsibility. Granted we have a community life that allows relatives several generations removed to pitch in when a child is born and you get to chose the lifestyle you want for your kid without interference from the government. However in terms of social amenities that makes general society conducive for children the government is largely lacking. Everything has been commercialized.

Sefton park liverpool
Sefton park liverpool

This is different in the UK, there are lovely parks for long relaxing walks and for children to exert their energy. There are children centres that provide medical advice/ consultation, socializing opportunities for parents and recreational activities for our little ones. Even for someone like me who prefers to write than talk the centres have been a source of information and camaraderie with fellow mothers, it has helped me integrate. So when the council announced its decision to shut down 10 of the children centres in a bid to save £156 million by 2017 the news was not well received.

"Princes Park Lake - geograph.org.uk - 522212" by Sue Adair. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Princes Park Lake – geograph.org.uk – 522212” by Sue Adair. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Under the proposal, seven SureStarts children centres will stay open in the city: Everton, Granby, Picton,Clubmoor, Belle Vale, Speke and County in Walton whilst ten others would be closed. Those under threat include: Anfield, Dingle Lane, Fazakerley and Croxteth, Fountains and Vauxhall, Garston Church and Mossley Hill, Kensington,Stoneycroft, Tuebrook and West Derby, Wavertree and Yew Tree. This would lead to 63 of the 157 full-time members of staff losing their jobs and the buildings would be managed by other organisations such as schools, with some rooms retained for outreach services.

In order to keep all the children’s centres open, concerned citizens launched a campaign urging the Government to reconsider its decision as the need for the services it provides is high in Liverpool. An e-petition save Liverpool children’s centre created by Susan Roberts has garnered 5,472 signatures and support from many people including Coleen Rooney. Parents have organised peaceful marches and protests to express their dissatisfaction.

Several letters,consultations and media debates later and we have a good verdict. The Mayor Joe Anderson on the 23rd of February at a meeting with parents at St George’s hall announced that the 10 children’s centres and 63 jobs under threat were safe until 2017. He said that publicly funded organisations – including the NHS and housing associations handed over a combined £1.5m to support the city’s SureStart programme. About £2.2m from the council’s reserves will also be ploughed in to save the centres.

Sefton park entrance Copyright Sue Adair and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Many have accused the mayor of playing politics and using this as a gimmick to earn votes. According to them the threat to shut 11 of the city’s 19 libraries last year was exactly the same. This also triggered a public outcry followed by the Mayors announcement that £1.6m savings had been found, meaning all the libraries would be saved but their opening hours would be reduced.” Personally I am happy the system works and the centres have not been shut-down. At least the government attempts to pay attention to its’ citizens outcry.

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