It seems bizarre to me how underused Surestart Centre are. Do you know where your local children’s centre is and what’s on offer there? Probably not unless you’ve gone out your way to find out. The main problem is the services and groups are often not advertised well and sometimes don’t even have a website or Facebook group. So unless you’ve actually called or been recommended, you could be missing out on some great local opportunities.
Why are they so great? I hear you ask. Well here are five reasons that your local or even not so local Surestart centres are worth checking out.
Wealth of Knowledge
1) The centres and group are all run by experienced professionals. As much as it’s great to share you problems and concerns with other mums, at a children’s centre you will pointed towards practical solutions and be given nationally recognised advice not just opinions. They will also have links with other service such as health visiting teams and midwives.
2) A number of the centres I’ve visited have a sensory room. This is perfect for tiny ones and even toddlers. There will be plenty of suggestions from the team on how to use the equipment and babies can explore the lights, sounds and textures on offer as they choose. Some centres even offer a led session very similar to the very expensive paid groups, either free or for a small donation.
3) You’re feeling brave enough to take your little bundle out and end up in a freezing old community centre with no heating, toilets that haven’t been updated in decades and wobbly chairs. Surestart centres generally are modern building with new facilities. There will definitely be a clean, safe baby changing table and you’re likely to find a comfy sofa, carpets and clean toys.
4) Unlike community led stay and play groups (which I also think are fantastic), some groups at Surestart centres are targeted to meet different needs. I’ve seen breastfeeding ‘cafes’, special needs groups, teen mum groups and multiple mummy sessions. I’m sure there are even more. This is a great way to meet other mums in a similar situation and hopefully make some friends.
Money, Money, Money
5) It’s free. What do you get that’s free? Not a lot. Before you go and splash the cash on the must do baby groups why not check out your local Surestart centre. Ring around a few as often they offer different groups and services and you might find more suitable not too far away.
Sadly, some services are being cut due to funding but the more we use the facilities we are offered, the more likely they will remain available.
Have you been to a Surestart centre? What did you think?