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There are now more than 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres across England, with more in Scotland and Wales. They provide families with young children with services, support and information. This means that more families know where to go to get help; parents who are worried about their child don’t have to suffer in silence; and mums, dads and grandparents can get together to share the joys and challenges of raising children.
The shout out for a sure start campaign was launched on 9 February 2010 by TV presenter and former Mum of the Year, Melinda Messenger, and popular children’s TV character Peppa Pig.
All major Parties put commitments to maintain the network of 3,500 Sure Starts in their manifestos.
Sure Start Children’s Centre funding was protected in ‘cash terms’ in the Comprehensive Spending Review. This compared highly favourably to other areas of spending in the Department for Education, particularly funding for youth services. However, it was no longer to be ring-fenced.
Our influential survey in January 2011 showed that 250 Sure Start Children’s Centres were at risk of closure. This research has been quoted in Parliament and in the press on numerous occasions. This helped to raise the ‘red flag’ about Sure Start closures. By April 1st more than 58 per cent of councils had given commitments to keep all Centres open – and some reversed their position quickly as a result of local media coverage of our survey. Senior figures in Local Government began to privately complain that there was a ‘moral ring-fence’ around Sure Start.