Burngreave Messenger

Issue 27 December 2002

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Sure Start Stopper
by Gaby Spinks

Local childcare organisations are currently been thrown into chaos due to withdrawal of Sure Start funding.

Sure Start for Burngreave and Fir Vale was started up two years ago to provide support to parents and carers of under 5s in the community.

Groups including Ellesmere Children’s Centre, Black Women’s Resource Centre, Burngreave Yemeni Women’s Group, Burngreave Young Children’s Centre, Book Start Plus and Citizens Advice Bureau have all had their Service Agreements withdrawn from 14th January. The notice given to the groups has been extremely short, and the managers are trying to work out what, if anything can be done to fill the shortfall.

Abtisam at the Yemeni women’s group said that already, some local women who use their crèche facilities can no longer attend classes at the centre due to financial pressures, because Sure Start is no longer funding the wages of crèche workers.

The Management Committee from the Ellesmere Children’s Centre doesn’t know whether the Baby Unit will be able to stay open. Ironically it was Sure Start’s money that originally funded the project.

These groups, amongst others, are worried that Sure Start aren’t listening to the community.

All the managers of the groups are very concerned about the future of Sure Start and its involvement of the community. “We thought that Sure Start meant working in partnership with existing local organisations,” one worker said, “not replacing them”.

Sure Start programme manager Amanda Boughton Brown said that all relevant groups, the partnership board and the community were consulted about the restructuring at a meeting held in September this year. Groups that the Messenger has spoken to disagree that this is the case. They thought that the meeting they attended was to discuss proposals to change the project structure not to implement them.

What the Messenger and the community would like to know is what happens now to those organisations that have childcare projects to run, and the parents and carers who use those centres.

Sure Start is having a stakeholders meeting on December 13th to discuss where Sure Start are at present in the reshaping process.

Stop Press...

The New Deal Partnership Board have agreed to fund three groups from the end of their Sure Start contracts in January until April.

Black Women’s Resource Centre, Ellesmere Children’s Centre and Yemeni Women’s Group approached New Deal when they discovered their contract with Sure Start would not be renewed.

Up to £60,000 of New Deal money will be spent to help maintain childcare provision in the area. New Deal for Communities hopes to continue supporting these activites with the Childcare Strategy project which will give business support and assistance for groups to gain self-sustaining childcare.