My Column in Morley Observer & Advertiser

Happy New Year to all Morley Observer readers!

Morley North Children’s Centre needs a permanent home. The centre does a fantastic job under the inspiring leadership of Centre Manager, Michelle Smith. Working with families and under 5s, it is a real lifeline. And with just a short break on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, their work continued to support local families.

For most Christmas is a time for celebration. But the average working family is £1,600 worse off than they were a few years ago. And for families who’ve experienced job loss or insecure employment contracts, times are extremely tough. The pressures of the festive season can cause huge stress and anxiety; when there is no food to put on the table or no money for the electricity or gas meter – let along presents for the kids. And as Michelle told me this week, these were common problems for her and her team to deal with over Christmas.

Each time I visit Michelle and the team I’m struck by their dedication and commitment. But the centre needs a permanent home. Since last summer the centre has been in temporary rented accommodation at St Mary in the Wood Church. Despite reductions in their budgets, staff have ensured their work continues. But the move has caused additional pressures and costs a lot more. With more reductions in their budget this year, what the centre needs is a permanent home so the staff can focus on providing the services local families need.

I’ve written to Leeds Council bosses to ask them to look urgently at all the options for Morley North Children’s Centre. Budgets are tight. But we have to make sure we get the best possible value for money so that local families continue to get the support they need from our excellent Children’s Centres.

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Posted January 8th, 2014 by Ed