Rochford Life: When did the Wishing Well Children’s Centre open here in Rochford?
Kay: This Children’s Centre has been open nearly three years.
RL: What is the objective of the Children’s Centre? Why was it opened?
Kay: All Children’s Centres are part of the Government programme called Sure Start and the purpose is to provide services for the families in the community, to work with the community, to offer support for the identified needs of that community, and to provide a safe space for people to bring their children under 5 and to enjoy some activities which help their development.
RL: There is a Nursery here and that is quite distinct from the Children’s Centre, so what is the difference between what you both provide?
Kay: The Children’s Centre doesn’t provide any child care. The Nursery provides child care where the parents come and leave their children to be cared for. The Children’s Centre is a family centre that is designed for parents to actually enjoy activities with their children together.
RL: Does a new mum just turn up on the front door?
Kay: Yes, she can just turn up; we don’t turn anybody away. We would explain what is available and generally speaking, if there is a session running, they could join in, or somebody would be available to talk to them about the programme, about what they might like from the Children’s Centre, or give them information about other Agencies if that is appropriate. If they are a little unsure we can also arrange for an outreach worker to visit them at home and support them to access the Children’s Centre if that would help.
RL: When you start up a Children’s Centre how do you publicise it?
Kay: Generally there is a Press Release in the local press and there would be connections to other agencies and other child-based organisations in the area to pass out information, such as through schools, colleges, councils etc.
RL: How many people do you have working with you here?
Kay: This particular centre has five people. There is:
· myself, the Centre Co-ordinator, and
· an administrator,
· a family support worker who works within the Centre to lead sessions and work with families here,
· an outreach worker who does sessions out of the Centre when necessary, who deals with promotional matters, and does case work with people who either refer themselves to us or are referred by other agencies, where they might need some support at home,
· and we also have a qualified teacher here, whose role is to support us and other early-years groups.
RL: What sort of activities do you provide generally here?
Kay: We have play and learn sessions which are quite easy going sessions, we have messy play which is more about encouraging children to do ‘mark making’ which is an issue in foundation stages at school at the moment , so we are trying to support that, helping child development for when they come to attending a school. We also have a multiple births group, which is all twins at the moment, and that offers peer support of other people who understand what they are going through. We also have family learning sessions which are more about supporting adults to help them support their children, so the College come in and lead those. The children also take part in parts of those sessions. We also have a mobile crèche that comes along and looks after the children when the parents are attending adult learning sessions. We link very closely to the Library, so we go along to the library to support some of their sessions for young families. We also deliver “MEND” and “HENRY” which are essentially nutrition programmes for young families, and we also have a Child Health Clinic here, where we check and weigh babies, and Health Visitors come and do that for us.
RL: What numbers do you think you get to any one particular group?
Kay: I think most sessions probably could have about eight adults and up to sixteen children, but normally for health and safety purposes we try not to have more than twelve children in the Centre at one time, and so most sessions tend to have between six to eight families at any one time. If we meet someone who finds that difficult or uncomfortable then we would provide for them in the best way that suits them. We have had families who perhaps were new to the area – we had a family recently who are only just learning English so it is quite daunting for them to be in a group where they can’t understand a lot of what is going on, so we enabled to come into quieter sessions. They had an outreach worker with them at that session, who they know and who can support them and help them integrate, and that worked very well.
RL: How much does it cost for a mum to come here?
Kay: We only ask for a voluntary donation as we don’t charge for sessions.
RL: Well thank you very much. I hope we may be able to come back and perhaps interview parents and/or your workers. Thank you again for your time.
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