The one where I saved the children’s centre…

…well not exactly, but it got you reading! We’ve attended Bingley Children’s Centre for quite a few years. To be honest since moving here in 2007, it’s one of the few places I’ve found where I’ve felt truly accepted. There are lots of opportunities for messy play and painting, there’s water play, a sandpit, home corner and lots more! It’s basically an awesome place and to be quite honest, for a lot of people I think it’s a lifeline. I was lucky enough to be on the advisory board for the Children’s Centre a few years ago when I was on maternity leave, and I can’t really imagine a time when I won’t be one of its supporters.

I was pretty horrified therefore just before Christmas 2013 when I heard of the councils new proposals to make it an outreach centre, therefore basically cutting most of its services and leaving it an empty building. To me the plans were ludicrous, especially considering the amount of money spent on the building and buying all the wonderful toys and facilities it contains, to say nothing of losing the wonderful staff who are truly skilled at what they do.

At first when I heard about the plans I felt sad, but sort of apathetic too, a kind of “well what can I do?” attitude. As it turned out, I could do quite a lot. I attended one of the consultation meetings at Shipley Town Hall along with many other parents from Bingley Rural Children’s Centre in Cottingley. I felt really emotional during the meeting, the plans seemed like a foregone conclusion and I felt really powerless. Then, spurred on by the actions and support of the wonderful parents in Ilkley trying to save their children’s centre, I set up an online petition which I submitted to Bradford Council just after Christmas. Following this I was called to give a speech to full chamber at Bradford Council. It was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. This is what it looked like…

bradford council chamber
Bradford council chamber

My knees were literally knocking together as I delivered a speech to all of Bradford’s councillors, I was pretty pleased to get a few “hear hears” when I talked about the fact that an assumption had been made that everyone in Bingley is affluent and/or doesn’t need help from the Children’s Centre. This assumption is totally flawed.

I was lucky enough to be supported in my speech by Canon Gary Hodgson (who just happens to be my friend’s dad) from Cottingley and many other parents who signed my petition.

We won. Well, sort of. We got a “reprieve” of 12 months while the council looks into this issue further. What we need to do next is simple, find a way together of persuading the council not to do further damage by changing funding to our vital Children’s Centre. What can you do to help? Use it! Attend sessions regularly and stay up to date with what’s going on here at Bingley Mums.

 

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