Lead of House of Commons meets families supported by Tavistock Children's Centre
As part of her work as Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Early Years Family Support, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom MP met with staff and families at Action for Children’s Tavistock Children’s Centre on Friday (10 May).
The Inter-Ministerial group, made up of Ministers from five departments, aims to identify gaps in services available for children and families and explore what more the Government can do to ensure they act early in a child’s life.
Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons and Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Early Years Family Support, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to West Devon Children's Centre this morning. It was wonderful to meet service providers and see the great work being done by organisations like Action for Children in rural communities, as well as to hear the testimony of families that have hugely benefitted from the Centre.
“This is a cause close to my heart and as Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Group on Early Years Family Support, I look forward to identifying ways that the Government can improve the services offered to expectant parents and those who have children under two.”
Children’s services manager at Action for Children in Devon, Calendula Pears, said: “We were pleased to meet Andrea Leadsom and have the opportunity to show her how our targeted early help services here in Tavistock can make a world of difference to vulnerable families.
“From simple help in sorting family finances and health visiting to more intensive programmes to help parents get to grips with behaviour and routines, there are few things children’s centres are not equipped to help with. And crucially, they’re often the first place to identify serious issues like abuse and neglect and step in before problems spiral out of control.
Intervening early can stop children from coming to harm, and that’s why central government urgently needs to increase funding for local councils so they can continue to provide these lifeline services.”
Kate Stephens, head of service for public health nursing at Devon County Council, said: “It was a great opportunity to welcome Andrea and her team to Devon to discuss the delivery of early years services in a rural context. Parents really value the opportunity to meet and share experiences with others at the centre, as well as being able to access local support.”
Single mum of two, Maria, from Horrabridge (pictured with daughter Izzibella) said: “It was great to talk to Andrea Leadsom about my experiences. I found myself really isolated after becoming a mum and didn’t really have anyone around to support me bringing up my two girls.
“I found it hard to meet people and I was struggling until I was put in touch with the children’s centre. They helped me get through a very difficult time in my life and I think my children would have been put in care if it wasn’t for the help I’ve had.”
Another mum who spoke to the Minister, Sarah, from Tavistock, said: “I’ve had such fantastic support from the children’s centre team over the past two years or so. They’ve been there for me all the way while I was struggling with family breakdown issues and mental health problems.
“As well as all the parenting and education courses, the emotional and practical support I’ve received has been amazing. To be quite honest I don’t think I’d still be here if it wasn’t for the children’s centre.”