Over a year ago, we launched confidence-building programme Change It: Progress to Success, supported by the Big Lottery Fund and in partnership with Liverpool’s Children’s Centres. 

This partnership with the children’s centres ensured that Change It would be delivered right in the heart of Liverpool’s communities and in a safe space that supports all members of the family from tots, to teens to adults. 

Having spent so much time there, our ‘Change It’ Trainer Mandy has a few words to say on the importance of Children’s Centres to local families and the wider community. So, we invited Mandy to do a guest blog! Have a read on her thoughts here .. 

They say the family is the glue that binds, but what happens if you don’t actually have a supportive family? Lets say, you are a parent trying to cope with a new born baby and the hardships now apparent in modern Britain – where do you go for family support?

I believe that the answer is children’s centres.

Not all parents have the support from their families, extended families and even neighbours in the street who would often be there to help out with advice, babysitting and a cup of sugar. Some may not have the luxury of the hands on grandparents to gain invaluable parenting advice – in fact, many  may be from a broken family and be experiencing poverty and isolation.

This is the very reason children’s centres exist; as an intervention to serve the poorest families in the poorest wards of England – that’s 4000 national spaces dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families.

Today, Children’s Centres are a hub of community engagement and activity that’s supported by local councils, family services, domestic abuse services, health services and adult learning services, all catering for the 21stcentury family.
For those of us who work with or use the Centres, we know of the extraordinary value they bring to thousands of women’s and children’s lives every day, and a recent Oxford University Study confirms it.
The fact that social isolation is no longer associated with the perils of the elderly is indicative of a society that is breaking down communities and dismantling the very core principles of the ‘glue that binds.’ Mums on their own with kids often experience a lonely existence, however, I have seen the very same mums lives turnaround completely by being part of another type of ‘family’ that operate under the roof of a purpose-built building where ‘everybody knows your name’.
It’s a place to share the joys and fears of being a new mum, the first tooth and steps, feeling proud that your child ate all their dinner and wondering what to do when the stress is too much to cope with. This is when then the children’s centres step up … with a helping hand, not a judgemental finger wag.
It’s the place where everything is at, from financial advice, health tips, childcare support, maths and English classes, family link workers, contact centres for fathers to see their children and much more.
But as they say they are ‘not kids for long’ and we are ‘not just mums’. As the kids get older, we ask,  ‘what’s next for mum’? At the children’s centres mums can figure out just that through services such as CV support classes or career guidance sessions to smooth over that transition to work, training and education.
If getting a job is the crucial element then the Children’s Centres work with the Better Off Finance Team to advise on benefits and money management, so that mums don’t fall into any poverty traps.
If its education or training then the referral can be to Adult Learning Services and Liverpool City Careers and Guidance or attend the classes at the Children’s Centres from basic maths, English and ESOL and computers/ IT.
For some of those mums who feel they need the confidence to maybe change old habits and look to build a more positive future, then the Change It programme, supported by the Big Lottery Fund is definitely the next step.
The Women’s Organisation have successfully provided this confidence building course for a year now with some great successes helping women from deprived communities achieve their goals of becoming who they are meant to be … successful, happy and fulfilled in whatever they desire. We run this programme in Liverpool’s children’s centres over eight sessions for two hours covering; assertiveness, thinking skills, learning styles, process of transition, negative beliefs, motivational skills and next steps to success.
So, what were the provisions available for mums before Children’s Centres? The answer is very little. In fact, before 1998 young mums used to be penalised and discriminated against instead of supported to be the best mum they can be. This is why we support the campaign to keep children’s centres open and available to those who need it most, in areas that need it more than ever and in the lives of mums that without them have no one.
Children’s centres are the invisible family that binds communities together.

For more information on Surestarts in your area click here.

If you think that this programme could be for you, we have a new batch of programmes starting in various venues around the city, and you can book your place now!

54 St James Street – Wednesday 12th September 2018 (4 Sessions)
Dingle Childrens Centre -Thursday 20th September 2018 (8 sessions)
Toxteth Firefit Hub – Thursday 20th September 2018 (5 sessions)Everton Childrens Centre – Monday 8th October 2018 (5 Sessions)

For more information on the Change It Program contact a member of our team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk.