Mums fight to save Yapton Family Centre from closure
Family centres are a ‘lifeline’ that are needed more than ever after a year of Covid restrictions have left new parents isolated, stressed and anxious.
That is why Pippa Buckman and Cheryl Carter have set up the Save Yapton Family Centre group on Facebook.
Proposals to reduce the number of centres in West Sussex from 43 to 11 have been discussed by a county council scrutiny committee with consultation due to end on May 17 before discussion at County Hall in June.
In an emotion-filled piece she has written, Cheryl said: “In a strange way that place is still managing to bring a network of people together.
“Together in the fight to save it from closure. Together for the next set of parents that we once were.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I couldn’t agree more. The village’s family centre has made these connections for me and has made me love our village and our community.
“It means a lot to me and it will be more than a shame if other families cannot have easy access to these wonderful services and experiences.”
Pippa said the proposed closure at Yapton has been put down to footfall but when the baby weigh ins were held the car park for the centre and the neighbouring village hall were always jam packed.
The move was short-sighted, she said, because Yapton does have an area deemed to be deprived and it prevented parents getting as far as needing the help of social services. “They say about saving resources but the family centres save resources themselves,” she said.
“It is all about getting local support and being able to meet other mums and talk to them - informal networks where parents can support each other.
“Mums who went to the milk group for example would often go for a picnic afterwards or the playgroup would move on to the park.”
Pippa, who has two children, first went to the family centre six years ago with her little boy, who was increasingly colic and found to have a milk allergy.
“I learned so much the other mums about how to deal with it,” she said.
After mums with children the same age started to drift away, she started helping the new mums at the centre.
She then used the centre for her younger child until Covid closed it but says she is still in touch with loads of mums.
“It’s amazing how they support each other,” she said. “Anyone who has had a baby in the last 14 months, especially a first-time mum, has not been able to make these connections.”
She knew of new mums who grieving their lost maternity, not having been able to experience the facilities there were pre-pandemic.
“New mums are very isolated . A lot of my friends don’t drive or have one car for the family which is used for the partner going to work,” she said.
“To get to the Wickbourne Centre in Littlehampton is two buses - and many new mums are too anxious to catch a bus.
“The other is Treehouse in Bognor which isn’t even on a bus route.
“We realise 43 is a lot and the council might have to close some of the centres but there are so many reasons to keep this one.”
Pippa and Cheryl’s children are older now but they said they were fighting for the centre for the new mums and those who had yet to think about having children, especially with several large housing developments being built in the village.
A petition to halt the planned cuts can be found at www.change.org/p/west-sussex-county-council-halt-the-planned-cuts-to-west-sussex-children-and-family-centres
Read Cheryl Carter’s story and why she wants to sve Yapton Family Centre here.
Find out what other village mums think here.
The latest story from the West Sussex County Council debate can be found here. https://www.bognor.co.uk/news/people/mums-call-yapton-family-centre-an-absolute-necessity-for-the-village-3221255