David Ellesmere, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Ipswich
The row over Ormiston Children’s Centre took another couple of twists yesterday, as Labour accused the Tories of misrepresenting the facts, only to see their own arguments countered by the County Council.
Labour Parliamentary Candidate, David Ellesmere, took umbrage at the claim by Tory MP Ben Gummer that the number of hours provided by the replacement services for the Ormiston Children’s Centre catchment area had gone up, saying “The facts are there in black and white. The Ormiston Children’s Centre has been shut and the services it used to provide have been slashed. Parents know it. The staff at Ormiston know it. It is disgraceful that Ben Gummer and Suffolk County Council are still trying to pretend otherwise.”
Mr Ellesmere contacted IpswichSpy.com after reading comments by Mr Gummer yesterday, and he highlighted a number of services that he claimed were no longer being provided from the Ormiston Children’s Centre – evidence, he says, that the hours have been slashed from 28 hours a week to just 12 hours a week.
Strangely his own colleague, Labour’s shadow Cabinet member for Children & Young People on the County Council Sonia Barker, claimed in a local newspaper today that the same Children’s Centre had seen services slashed from 19 hours a week to just 3 hours a week.
Helpfully the County Council were happy to explain the reality. It seems Mr Ellesmere was referring to the Summer 2013 programme, but actually the “last” programme delivered by the Ormiston Centre was the Winter 2013/2014 programme. In addition, Ormiston (now East Ipswich) Children’s Centre operated with Ravenswood and Treehouse. They do not operate in isolation. That means courses/sessions rotate around them and are, therefore, not always at one place. For instance, the ‘Incredible Toddlers’ session advertised on OCC’s summer 2013 list was, in fact, run from Ravenswood. This is in the notes on the course.
In addition, many of the activities listed on the Summer 2013 schedule were not commissioned by SCC or were provided or commissioned by other organisations, for instance the NHS, at the venue. So if they’ve stopped that is nothing to do with SCC. So they have no bearing on the new programme which is delivered by SCC.
Many of the activities were also delivered on demand and by referral. Therefore if the demand or referrals aren’t there, the course won’t be for a period of time either. Additionally, Suffolk County Council is providing information and support from Ormiston Centre for 24 hours per week and we have agreed to fund room hire for an Adoption Support Group so this can continue at the Ormiston Centre.
Mr Ellesmere suggested eleven specific courses that he believed were no longer being provided at all, but the County Council had answers for each specific claim:
Ante-natal support from the local midwife is a session that NHS Midwifery ceased to deliver at Christmas and is now delivered at the Treehouse Children’s Centre instead. The NHS Midwifery service considers this to be sufficient service coverage for East Ipswich. Parentcraft days for parents continue to be delivered at Ravenswood Children’s centre.
A session named Bumps to Babies, where new parents get parenting information and advice, meeting other parents with bumps to babies up to 6 months old, was renamed Baby Babble and is being delivered at a community venue in the reach area.
The County Council insist that a session called Child-minding Group, a session where parents looking for childcare could drop in and meet local child-minders, was not offered at Ormiston Children’s Centre, and it is not advertised on their previous timetable.
Development Reviews for 1 Year Olds – by appointment with the health visitor. SCC say these are offered across East Ipswich by the Health Visiting team parents select a venue to attend according to the convenience of the day and time, there is no reduction in the number of appointments being offered.
Freedom Programme – for women who have been or are affected by domestic abuse. This is offered at one Children’s Centre at a time as numbers are small, there is a current programme running locally. SCC also chooses not to openly advertise the location of these sessions as they are for vulnerable women who require discretion. This doesn’t mean they are not running.
Incredible Babies is a 10 week course for babies aged 0-5 months, and Incredible Toddlers is a 12 week parenting course to encourage children’s co-operation and reduce difficult and challenging behaviour in 10 to 3 year olds.
The County Council say Incredible Babies/Toddlers/Years are parenting support programmes that run when there is sufficient number of parents being referred that is run in light of the referrals received and rotates from centre to centre in North East Ipswich depending on staff availability and the need for on-site child care support. Currently there are no pending referrals for these courses in Ipswich East according to the Area Parenting Co-ordinator. They do not run continuously and the next course is provisionally planned for the 15th of May. We are also delivering Triple PPP parenting support from next week at Treehouse.
Made of Money – group workshop on how to make money go further. SCC will consider re-running this course in the future if the demand is there. They say they wouldn’t run it without people requesting it/attending.
Polish Drop In – for members of the Polish community with children under-5. This was run by Ormiston Trust by a parent volunteer and not delivered by the Children’s centre. It ceased in February when the volunteer left. The cessation of this group is not related to changes in the contract to deliver a Children’s Centre service.
Self Esteem and Confidence Group – 6 week course to include feelings of self-worth, handling conflict and learning to be assertive. This was not on the previous Ormiston timetable. This course is delivered by Realise Futures. This was not being delivered in 2014 and therefore SCC has not sought to run it in the immediate transfer period. An identical course is running at Ravenswood Children’s Centre currently and courses will continue to be available in the future. The Realise Futures learning centre is situated in the Ormiston reach area and has a number of courses of a similar nature. The support and information service will be able to redirect parents to these pending courses.
Talk It Through – free and confidential counselling. This was not a Children’s Centre service, there is no reference to this on the Ormiston Children’s Centre timetable and was not delivered as part of their Children’s Centre contract. Ormiston Trust was funding counselling separately for one or two parents. SCC has referrals routes to Suffolk Wellbeing service and Suffolk MIND for parents requiring counselling.
A spokesman for the County Council added that between the 1st September 2013 and the 13th April 2014 some 68% of the parents accessing services attended the sessions that are still being offered directly from the Ormiston Children’s Centre.
Filed under: Education, Politics | Tagged: Ben Gummer MP, David Ellesmere, Ormiston Children's Centre, Ravenswood Children's Centre, Sonia Barker, Treehouse Children's Centre | 2 Comments »