We want all children in Westminster to have the best possible start in life and to grow up in happy and healthy families.
We are committed to this goal, but like other councils can only achieve it at a time of significant budget reductions by making changes to some of our services including children’s centres.
We consulted on the future of children’s centres in January 2016. Parents were given the option of attending three face-to-face meetings at children’s centres or completing an online questionnaire to share their views.
We proposed a new model for children’s centres in Westminster which builds on the good work already taking place to reach vulnerable families, and goes even further in targeting services to those most in need.
The main changes we proposed were:
Altogether 170 people responded to the questionnaire and 72 attended a meeting. Below are some of the changes we’ve made to our original proposal to reflect what you told us.
You said: Churchill Gardens was not the best place to have a Family Hub in south Westminster. Many parents were concerned that it was not accessible for them.
We will: Move the Hub to a more accessible site. We are exploring the Bessborough Centre, 1 Bessborough Street, SW1V 2JD, which is fully accessible. The full range of Children’s Centre services would continue to be available at this site and extended to young people aged up to 19 years-old.
You said: The advice and support you get from the Café Mama at Marsham Street Children’s Centre is invaluable and helps new parents to meet others that are new to parenthood.
We will: Ensure Café Mama continues to run by finding a convenient venue for this service.
You said: There was a need for additional 2-year-old early education places in the area.
We will: Expand the 2-year-old offer at Bayswater, Queensway and Westbourne Children’s Centres (or a school site close to Westbourne).
You said: We should try to keep other Children’s Centre services running at Bayswater.
We will: Explore opportunities to continue running activities from this site.
You said: Maida Vale Children’s Centre is already oversubscribed and delivering the 2-year-old places at the centre would just increase the pressures.
We will: Maintain Maida Vale as a Children’s Centre only, with no additional 2-year-old places. We will explore other venues in the area for the free 2-year-old early education places.
You said: Stay and Play sessions are hugely valued by families. Many parents were encouraged by the idea of parent-led Stay and Play sessions, supported by the council, as a way to ensure these continue to run.
We will: Commit to the set-up of at least 3 parent-led Stay and Play sessions, 1 in each area of Westminster.
Churchill Gardens Children’s Centre will move just around the corner to Bessborough Street. At its new home the Children’s Centre will be transformed into a ‘Family Hub’ where all activities will continue to run, including additional support for older children, so that families can access everything in one place. The dates of the move have not yet been confirmed.
Marsham Street Children’s Centre will be combined with Churchill Gardens Children’s Centre and most of the current activities, including Café Mamma, will move to the Family Hub in Bessborough or to another local venue.
The Stay and Play sessions that take place through the West End Children’s Centre at the Fitzrovia Community Centre and the Soho Family Centre will continue to run, but the number of sessions currently on offer may reduce.
Queen’s Park Children’s Centre will be transformed into a ‘Family Hub’ where all Children’s Centre activities will continue to run, including additional support for parents with older children, so that families can access everything in one place.
There will be new free early education places for two-year-olds at Bayswater Children’s Centre, Harrow Road Children’s Centre (at Essendine School and Paddington Recreation Ground) and Queensway Children’s Centre to meet the growing need in the local area.
Westbourne Children’s Centre will also run new early education places, although these won’t start immediately.
Going forward, Stay and Play sessions will only run at Queens Park Children’s Centre. We are working with parents to set up additional volunteer-led Play and Stay sessions in the area as we know these are important to you and your children.
Church Street Children’s Centre will be transformed into a ‘Family Hub’. Children’s Centre activities will continue to run and, in addition, we will develop additional services for parents.
Children’s Centre activities and services will also continue to run at Maida Vale Children’s Centre.
We are working with parents so that they can take over the running of the Stay and Play session at Micky Star Children’s Centre. Two-year-old early education places at Paddington Green Children’s Centres will move to Portman Early Childhood Centre and the Stay and Play sessions at this children’s centre will no longer take place.