To: Melinda Tilley and Oxfordshire County Council

Save Oxfordshire’s Children’s Centres

We call on Oxfordshire County Council not to close the county’s 44 Children’s Centres and maintain universal access to their vital services.

Our Children’s Centres are a lifeline to new parents who rely on locally accessible advice and support at a time when it is most needed. Cutting these essential services would leave families vulnerable and isolated, and fail an entire generation of children.

Why is this important?

Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to shut down all 44 of the County’s Children’s Centres, and halve the current Early Years budget of £16m. Instead the council will replace them with just eight Children and Family Centres, which would only be accessible to the most vulnerable by referral.

Our well used and much loved centres in communities across Oxfordshire currently provide a wide range of early intervention support including parenting courses, support for postnatal depression and mental health, young parent groups, breastfeeding support, mobile libraries, maths and English classes for adults, midwife support, baby groups, health visitor drop-in clinics, Freedom programmes for victims of domestic abuse and much more.

If current proposals go ahead, most of this support would either disappear entirely or only be available to families who are already in difficulties. An end to universal provision of support for families of under-fives will only increase the stigma associated with seeking out help, and may put people off using these essential services at a time when they feel vulnerable and isolated.

It is a false economy to close Children’s Centres. Universal access to the early intervention services they provide has numerous economic and other long-term benefits for the health and wellbeing of parents, children and the wider community.

The cuts will result in a higher workload for other health professionals (health visitors, GPs), higher future costs and an increased risk of postnatal difficulties (breastfeeding difficulties, postnatal depression) with potentially serious and long-term consequences for parents and babies.

We have started a community-led campaign asking the council to reconsider these plans urgently. The children’s centres are well regarded, well established and their staff are highly experienced professionals. Many families across Oxfordshire can and do readily access support at a time when they need it most. The testimonies of families who have used the centres make it clear how much of a lifeline they are.

Together, we must protect them.

How it will be delivered

In person to Melinda Tilley, the Oxfordshire County Councillor responsible for Children's Services.

Oxfordshire County Council

Reasons for signing

  • If it was not for the children centres I would have gone into depression as I have no family around to help with my little one
  • Because even the most competent mums and dads need help from time to time.
  • Because I want civic money to be spent wisely on the people who live in Oxford

Updates

2015-09-19 11:28:50 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2015-09-16 22:31:31 +0100

Thanks everyone who came to Oxfordshire County Council yesterday. Together, over 100 of us made our voices loud and clear, both outside County Hall and inside the meeting where we shared powerful personal stories and evidence of the positive impact Children's Centres have on parents and communities.

We also got some great media coverage, in the Oxford Mail http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/13739007.Parents_say____don___t_shut_children___s_centres___/?action=success#comment_14617575 Banbury Cake, BBC Oxford http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b069x50k/bbc-oxford-news-15092015 and BBC Radio Oxford.

The Council Cabinet decided to go ahead and move forward with the consultation on their 3 deeply flawed proposals, so our campaign continues! We must, and we will, ensure that Oxfordshire's Children's Centres stay open to provide universal access to support and advice for parents and under 5s.

Join us for the next phase of the campaign. Find us on Facebook or visit our website.

2015-09-15 14:45:14 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2015-09-15 09:36:14 +0100

500 signatures reached

2015-09-15 04:55:43 +0100

100 signatures reached

2015-09-14 23:19:58 +0100

50 signatures reached

2015-09-14 23:05:01 +0100

25 signatures reached

2015-09-14 22:52:06 +0100

10 signatures reached