Public health, social care, education and community partners came together this week for the official opening of St Helens Borough’s first family hub which offers a broad range of services under one roof, including a quality offer for children and young people with special educational needs (SEND).
Formerly Sutton Children’s Centre, Sutton Family Hub is part of a £3m Department for Education-funded initiative to develop family hubs and build on a range of other services for children and families in the borough over the next couple of years. The focus is from conception to age two years and to support families with children up to 19 years of age – or 25 for young people with SEND – with two other hubs set to open in St Helens Town Centre and Newton-le-Willows over the coming months.
Since opening earlier this year as part of a soft launch, more than 1,700 people have already engaged with the hub where a range of services are available to ensure children have the best start in life – St Helens Borough Council’s number one priority which recently saw the local authority turnaround its Children’s Services from an ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’ Ofsted-rated provision.
With a focus on supporting parenting, child development and tackling inequalities to ensure all children get the best start in life, it’s clear to see how Sutton Family Hub is having a positive impact on the local community. Daniela visits twice a week to attend play groups with her baby daughter.
Daniela said: “I think it’s important for babies and young children to have places like this to come and socialise, especially if you’ll have to send them to nursery which activities like this help prepare for. But it’s also a great help for the parents, too.
“For me, as a first-time mum, it helps reduce isolation. Being able to come here and socialise with other mums has led to me making friends who I now meet outside of the classes as well.”
As part of its transformation into a family hub, the Ellamsbridge Road facility has undergone an extensive refurbishment which involved redecorating rooms – while new inclusive outside play, gardening and sensory equipment has been fitted for children and young people with SEND to enjoy.
The opening of Sutton Family Hub has also led to a number of new employment opportunities, including three apprenticeships.
Commenting after cutting the ribbon alongside the Mayor of St Helens Borough, Lynn Clarke, to formally open Sutton Family Hub, St Helens Borough Council Leader, David Baines, said: “Doing all we can to ensure every single child and young person in St Helens Borough has the best possible start in life is our first priority as a council, so it’s great to open Sutton Family Hub – the first of three that we’ll be opening across the borough to support young people and their families.
“I want to thank everyone who made this possible, in particular our public health and children’s social care at St Helens Borough Council. It takes a lot of work to do something like this and we couldn’t have done it without our partners too who work tirelessly day in, day out to help children and young people.”
Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added: “It’s important that we continue to offer support to families, particularly in the current financial climate, so it’s great that those families can come here and access the support that’s available to them. A strong aspect of the work coming out the family hub is the partnership approach with fantastic organisations like the NHS, Torus, St Helens Wellbeing, youth services and various voluntary groups to deliver services for our families, children, and young people.
“Children and young people are our number one priority, and we are absolutely committed to delivering services for them and their families of which Sutton Family Hub is a shining example.”
As part of its official opening celebrations, Sutton Family Hub is calling on children and young people to help design a teddy bear mascot, with a free family cinema pass up for grabs. Forms are available to collect from the hub or can be shared via Facebook or Instagram – @sth_familyhubs.
The service would also like to hear from families in the community to hear their experiences and find out what is important to them in the development of Family Hubs. To take part in a short online survey, please visit: https://forms.office.com/e/LUrj0QxUm2
Sutton Family Hub is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm.
For more information, visit: sthelensfamilyhub.sthelens.gov.uk