Sure Start

Wellbeing, Care and Learning - Children

February 2015

Proposed deletion of Sure Start Lead (North) post which is one of the 5 Sure Start Lead posts. Consultation began 19th March and ended 3rd April. There have been no concerns raised regarding this proposal. The deletion will contribute to the £1 million savings target for 2014/15. Interim management arrangements have been put in place pending the outcome of the Review which has an implementation date of 1 September 2014


December 2014

The Unison petition for’ I heart Sure Start’ is to be delivered to Downing Street on Tuesday 2nd December. A total of 6 people are allowed to act as petitioners Nick Forbes, Leader of the Council and the Lord Mayor will be attending along with myself (Lynda Hardie), one member of staff from Sure Start and two parents.

Our campaign was referenced within the Cabinet Report for the Family Services Review and this included our petition and additional references to our ‘postcard’ campaign were highlighted within the briefing sessions and had been taken into account with our written submissions.


November 2014

We submitted our petition which at that point had reached a total of 3,700 signatures and were able to lobby council and have a speaker address the meeting.

The latest part of our campaign went well; we had booked the banqueting suite and arranged publicity for a protest and lobby ahead of the scheduled full council meeting.

We used the banqueting suite to act as a drop in event for councillors and parents and service users to meet and discuss the proposals and what effect any closures could have.

We displayed photographs from our Sure Start Picnic in the Park event, the valentine cards from the beginning of our campaign in February, posters which we had produced including some of the postcards that had been submitted by service users and staff, banners produced by the children at centres, memory books and the booklet which we had printed which gave information on the breadth of services included within the review and accessed through Sure Start Centres and Family Services and quotes from parents, service users, staff and professionals.

The video interviews of parents and children which we filmed during the summer were also screened throughout the event.

All councillors had been invited to attend as had Ewan Weir and Colin Williams, Nick Forbes (Leader of the Council) attended along with around 8 councillors and they spent time looking at the displays and talking with parents etc. ahead of full council meeting.

We had asked for a parent to speak at the meeting and were contacted by a parent volunteering to do so. On the morning of the meeting this parent contacted our office to say that they couldn’t go ahead, the speech that they intended to give had already been submitted to Democratic Services, but that they were happy for the speech to be read out on their behalf.

We went ahead and delivered the petition and speech which was well received, the Lord Mayor asked whether Nick Forbes would consider taking the petition to Downing Street along with some parents.

We have spoken with Councillor Kingsland regarding this and Nick Forbes is keen to progress this and hopes that he. Councillor Kingsland, the Lord Mayor and some parents can action this. Dates are currently being looked at regarding this.

On 17th October at a Family Service Review meeting following Cabinet Report 10th October it was announced that instead of the three models which had been consulted on during the locality events the Authority would be progressing with Model 4, this was after collating the information from the events and taking into account the model choices which were made but also the high number of people who declined to favour any model and also taking into account councillors opinion and views.

Consideration was also to the petition from Unison and the Portfolio Holder confirmed this.

Model 4 main features



October 2014

Sure Start Campaign

We have finished work on the booklet we are producing and sent this through to be printed.

On the 1st October we will lobby full council; we plan to have parents, staff and public outside the Civic from 4.30pm. We have organised an event in the Banqueting Suite for councillors to attend ahead of their meeting along with families, staff etc.

We will have our booklet to hand out which details information on Sure Start and the services that can be accessed; this also includes parent, service user and provider quotes and photographs.

A huge thank you to our Sure Start contacts and especially Ed Whitby (Convenor) for all the preparation and work that has gone into the production of this booklet.

We will also be putting up displays, hopefully some video interviews etc., etc.

We should have a parent who will speak to Council and the meeting is open to public so we are hoping for a good attendance.

The completed postcards will also be handed over to Ewan Weir who along with the councillors we have asked to attend.

The press have also been notified.


September 2014

Sure Start Campaign

I (LH) gave a verbal update at last Branch Committee on the Sure Start Picnic in the Park and how successful it had been. There were 500 people in attendance and we were able to capture this in photographs which we have now had printed.

The Leader of the Council, Nick Forbes attended and spoke with the press and directly to the parents as well as individually to a number of concerned parents. Tyne Tees Television interviewed a number of parents.

The feedback we have had from this event has been really enthusiastic and it wouldn’t have been possible without the input from the staff worker group, the staff attending on the day and the parents and children who came along to give their support. Ed Whitby, Children’s Convenor, has and continues to be instrumental to this campaign attending events, meetings and writing leaflets etc.

Since then we have attended a number of the Family Fun Events over the summer break, talking to parents and adding more signatures to our petition and raising awareness of the proposals to cut the budget by 65%.

We have had posters printed using the messages from some of the completed postcards – which we intend to deliver to Ewan Weir. The postcards are a variety from parents, carers, staff children and members of the public.

We have also had a leaflet printed regarding our intention to lobby full council on Wednesday 1st October at 4.30pm.

We have secured the banqueting suite and will invite councillors, ahead of their meeting, and parents to attend. Our intention is to display the many photographs from our Picnic in the Park, to have the posters on display from the postcards. We also have some video interviews of parents and children which we will show.

We have also been working on a booklet for councillors giving details of all the services available through Sure Start which will also include parent’s statements.


July 2014

Sure Start Campaign

The Sure Start Picnic in the Park is due to be held on 2nd July 2014 in the park and Ceremonial Way at the Civic Centre. I will give a verbal update on how this went at Branch Committee. At the point of writing this report all arrangements are in hand. The Leader of the Council has confirmed his
attendance from 13.00pm and we have invited the press and all councillors along with Ewan Weir and Pat Ritchie.

There will be children’s entertainment we have booked face painters, balloon makers, music and Children’s keep fit. Sure Start staff will attend and provide other activities. We have first aid officers and will have a central point for lost children.

We will supply bottled water and fruit.

We have tee-shirts printed with the I heart Sure Start slogan printed on for 2 – 5 year old children who attend and have balloons printed, again with the logo, which we will ask children to walk into the grassed quad area and release the balloons together – we have contacted the Aviation Authority for permission for this.

Hopefully all will go well.


June 2014

Sure Start Campaign

We have met with our contacts from Sure Start to discuss leaflets and the event which we want to hold.

We’ve arranged some release time for this week so that our workplace reps can work together on next steps and production of leaflets aimed at councillors and a second leaflet for service users.

We’ve attended further events within half-term at various centres again distributing postcards, engaging with service users. Our petition is gaining a lot of signatures. It’s now on-line

10 days ago there were 1000 signatures and we have several hundred paper signatures.

We also have 180 completed postcards with more to come in from the Centres.

I (LH) also attended the partnership board meeting at Riverside Sure Start in their new location on Adelaide Terrace, Benwell. Parents who attended are keen to be involved.

Our reps are also collecting 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.

We have also been able to start some video- documentary of some service users.

We have been given permission to use the park and ceremonial way including the quad for our ‘Big Event’ which is to be a’ Sure Start picnic in the park’ we are proposing this to be held on 2nd July.

UNISON will provide entertainment – 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 2nd July to tie in with the next Children’s DJC and would hope that this will also attract a press presence.


May 2014

Sure Start Campaign

We 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 Campaign

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.

Sure Start Early years and Childcare

Proposed deletion of Sure Start Lead (North) post which is one of the 5 Sure Start Lead posts. Consultation began 19th March and ended 3rd April. There have been no concerns raised regarding this proposal. The deletion will contribute to the £1 million savings target for 2014/15. Interim management arrangements have been put in place pending the outcome of the Review which has an implementation date of 01.09.2014.


March 2014

We began our campaign using Valentine’s Day to highlight our ‘We love Sure Start’ approach. We visited a number of Centres to deliver ‘Valentine’ cards which we had printed. We asked that staff, parents and service users sign the cards including any messages of support etc.

We then collected the completed cards and were able to present these to the Leader of the Council – Nick Forbes on 14th February. In total we presented 18 large cards and where able to take some photographs of Nick receiving the cards.

We have left these with him in order for him to read the many messages which had been written. A number of the Centres have asked for the cards to be returned so they can collect more signatures. We will also be arranging meetings to take place with staff, parents and service users in order to continue our campaign.

This is a very important start to our campaign as the proposals regarding Sure Start are that £1m reductions are made this year with a further reduction of £4m next year. This could clearly lead to the closure of some Centres.


January 2014

Sure Start Leads were notified to inform staff that the budget proposals are part of the larger service review and are therefore effective from 31.08.13 and not 31.03.13.

Communications will continue throughout the review process.


December 2013

Budget Briefing

Savings to be met are £1,000,000 with workforce reduction FTE figure @ 14.

We have no further detail at this point. These figures relate only to City Council staff reductions and not staffing reductions within commissioned services.


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