Sure Start is due to be wound up in March and its services will be much missed by the large numbers of Islington parents who appreciate the superb staff and nurturing facilities. Paradoxically it is generally reckoned to have been a failure. It t was supposed to patch the patches of misguided benefits and housing policy ,which have undermined working class communities and families. With disgraceful presumption , it was envisioned as part of a state replacement for the two parent family and a safety net for girls who were tempted into early pregnancy by the promise of independence. Points awarded to for needy lifestyles of all sorts have been exactly the disaster that Frank Field predicted when he was charged to, “think the unthinkable.”
“ No free society can function when very large sections of the working population are so imprisoned by the welfare system that their own efforts can make little difference to their income”. Gordon Brown was prominent amongst those who stopped this admirable Labour politician giving the country a firm basis for the future. The tax payer has increasingly been treated like a medieval serf ever since.
The allegation made of Sure Start has been , that underprivileged parents have stayed away and it has instead become a meeting place for the “middle classes”. There is something in this . At the Mitford centre I met a few other local fathers this morning at the aptly named “fathers only morning”. There are usually a couple of solicitors ,an architect ,and a most engaging alternative comedian. I chalked it up as yet another failed Labour policy. Good riddance
My good lady wife was unimpressed. As she pointed out ,we have had to move for work and training and like a lot of people in Islington have become isolated from our families and neighbours. Women at home in particular have no supporting community in a Borough where ,“community”, is a myth ,repeated out of mere habit. For these reasons, the Sure Start and other post natal supports have been vital in establishing new links between ourselves.
Sure Start may not be filling the need that New labour intended it to but it has been a solution to a real problem . It was entirely by accident but they got something right . Alternative facilities are likely to be arranged but is rumoured that they will not be as well funded or staffed. The Council will have amore important role and I think we would all like to be reassured that this wonderful service will be adequately maintained. .