The Sure Start Campaign

Newcastle City Council has confirmed that all 20 Sure Start centres in the city are under threat as the Council faces further significant budget cuts in addition to those already delivered in 2013.

In original proposals set out in 2012, five children’s centres were to be protected from closure. This has been amended, and now all 20 centres will be reviewed in order to make savings of £4m on Sure Start services over the next three years.

The current Council workforce will be reduced by 60 per cent by 2016, and additional staff employed in the Community and Voluntary Organisations operating within the centres may also be reduced.

Newcastle City UNISON calls on anyone or any organisations in the City who wish to support us in our campaign to contact the Branch office 0191 2116980,

Sure Start Petition


Downing Street Lobby

As part of Newcastle UNISON Branch's campaign to defend jobs and services across Sure Start and Family Services, a Branch delegation of Lynda Hardie (Deputy Branch Secretary), worker and UNISON member Lila Barnett and parents Mary-Jane Okpala & Lynne Milburn, accompanied by the Mayor and Leader of Newcastle Council, delivered a petition to Downing Street.The signatures had been gathered across the City throughout the Branch's 10 month campaign to protect what are in our view essential services.

This was the latest stage of a year long campaign to protest about the significant cuts being levelled across Children's Services, and the damage to services and reduction in jobs. Newcastle Labour MPs Chi Onwurah and Catherine McKinnell also turned up to add their support to UNISON's campaign.

Whilst it is understood that delivering a petition in of itself will not remove the threat to these services, it is part of the Branch's wider publicity and lobbying campaign against all cuts proposed by the Council for the forthcoming year.

The event was covered by Tyne Tees television, see link below:

Save Sure Start Lobby

Wednesday 1 October, 4.30 pm

Ceremonial Way at the Civic Centre

We have collected nearly 5000 signatures on a petition which we have submitted to the council, this entitles a campaign representative to speak at the full council meeting this Wednesday. In order that the elected members are left in no doubt about the strength of feeling over this issue.

The branch is also organising a lobby on Ceremonial Way at the Civic Centre from 4.30 pm, and we have a campaign event in the Banqueting Suite at the same time.

If you could show your support for the campaign, please try to attend the lobby or call in to the campaign event, food will be provided.

Sure Start campaign



JUNE 2014


Sure Start Picnic in the Park

Wednesday 2 July


This event in support of the Sure Start campaign will take place at the Civic Centre using the park, the ceremonial way and the quadrangle.

UNISON will provide entertainment with face painting, magician etc. We have had 150 children’s tee-shirts printed with our Sure Start slogan which we’ll hand out and 200 helium balloons will be given out and hopefully released at the same moment.

We’ve proposed 2 July to tie in with the next Children’s DJC and are hoping that this will also attract a press presence.

Campaign news

The campaign is progressing well with many people expressing their support through the postcard campaign and the petition.

We also have articles from parents about Sure Start including people who went through Sure Start themselves and in some cases became volunteers and then progressed to employment.

For a full update see Lynda Hardie's report to the June Branch Committee.

MAY 2014


Taking the campaign to the public

The Sure Start campaign team attended a number of events over Easter.

We have also attended Area Partnership meetings for Sure Start East partnership at Ouseburn Community Centre and Sure Start North Partnership Meeting at Brunswick Park Centre.

At the events we had a stall with the postcards we had printed which parents, service users, staff and the public could complete with messages to Ewan weir.

We also had a petition which carries the’ I love Sure Start’ logo to be signed. A leaflet was also available which gave information about Sure Start and our campaign and also had a section were names and address could be given if there was interest in the campaign for follow up.

The events were very successful and the strength of feeling from parents who came to the stall and completed the petition and postcards was very high.

The Partnership meetings we attended at request and gave an update on the campaign again handing out the petition and postcards for distribution.

We have also attended a Community Event at St. Martins at Walker on 30th April again setting up a stall and speaking about our campaign.

At the last count we had over 130 postcards completed and 160 signatures. There are also postcards and petitions to come in from the Centre so the total will be higher.

There is a meeting on 2nd May of Sure Start contacts at Unison office where we will be discussing the way forward and how best to engage parents etc.

We will be arranging a meeting for parents; service users etc. as soon as possible and will hopefully tie in with the existing ‘Parents Voices Campaign’

APRIL 2014


Sure Start Petition

Sure Start Children’s Centres improve outcomes for young children and their families and reduce inequalities, particularly for those families in greatest need of support.

As part of £110 million of savings over three years, Sure Start has been targeted to make savings of £1 million this year and an additional £4 million next year. They are now part of a wider Family Services Review which is currently being explored. If there are no changes to these proposals it is envisaged that some centres may have to close.

As part of our ‘I Heart Sure Start’ campaign we have been visiting centres across the city to engage members of the public, asking them to sign a petition and complete postcards to Ewan Weir explaining just how vital these services are.

It is really important as many people as possible to sign the petition. Please share it with colleagues, friends and family.

Sure Start Petition


Building the campaign with the Sure Start staff

So far UNISON has visited 4 Centres – Raby Cross, Newbiggin Hall, Bridgewater and North Moor. One further Centre is still to be calendared. Staff have come up with some great ideas to take our campaign forward.

We are having postcards printed which have the slogan’ I love Sure Start’ on the front – which is the same as the valentine cards we used. On the back the addressee is Ewan Weir and there is a message space which can be completed and an indicator of parent, staff, service user, carer, public.

A number of events are due to be held over Easter at Centres and we will attend and have a stall where we can talk to services users and hand out the postcards.

We are also having a leaflet printed which will highlight our campaign and where service users can leave their details if they wish to be contacted.

We have been able to enlist contacts in each centre and we will arrange a meeting for contacts and then a further meeting with service users etc.

One suggestion has been a Sure Start picnic in the Park and we are looking into this at the moment.

MARCH 2014

The next step in the Sure Start Campaign

The branch secretary told March's branch committee that the campaign got off to a positive start with the Children’s Centres gathering signatures on valentine’s cards for the leader who was presented with them in his office.

The next step will be to set up a series of meetings with staff to get members involved and to organize a series of public meetings.


“I ♥ Sure Start” campaign launch

Lynda Hardie presenting Valentine cards to Nick Forbes

On Friday 14th February, Valentines cards signed by parents, carers, service users, staff and UNISON, from all Sure Start Centre’s across the City; will be delivered to the Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, to show the desire and determination of everyone who cares about Sure Start in Newcastle; to campaign for the Council to retain these well loved and desperately important resources.

While the Coalition Government’s continued austerity cuts are the catalyst for the Council to review the future of Sure Start, UNISON believes that many young people and parents across the City have benefited from the services provided within Sure Start Centre’s, particularly those located in less affluent areas, and there is a need to continue to provide them in the future. The Council must do all it can to retain these services.

The Council’s 2016 budget proposal and integrated impact assessment (IIA), includes the following testament to the benefits of Sure Start - All Ofsted inspections of Sure Start Children’s Centres have assessed the services as good or outstanding, highlighting clear evidence of the positive impact of integrated working to improve outcomes for children, especially vulnerable groups and the “notably strong support” received from children’s centres was highlighted in the recent Inspection of Safeguarding and Looked After Children as being a key contributor to making the implementation of the common assessment framework (CAF) a “significant success story within the city”.

Newcastle Sure Start provides help and support from various teams of professionals, including education, care, family support, health services and employment; provided in a way that is easy and convenient for families.

Services and activities available at Sure Start Children's Centres include:

Newcastle City Council has confirmed that all 20 Sure Start centres in the city are under threat as the Council faces further significant budget cuts in addition to those already delivered in 2013.

In original proposals set out in 2012, five children’s centres were to be protected from closure. This has been amended, and now all 20 centres will be reviewed in order to make savings of £4m on Sure Start services over the next three years.

The current Council workforce will be reduced by 60 per cent by 2016, and additional staff employed in the Community and Voluntary Organisations operating within the centres may also be reduced.

Newcastle City UNISON calls on anyone or any organisations in the City who wish to support us in our campaign to contact the Branch office 0191 2116980,


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