Cuts to Barking and Dagenham children’s centres would ‘hit vulnerable’

Angry parents have spoken out against cuts which would see nine Barking and Dagenham children’s centres lose many of their services and one shut down completely.

They claim the changes could leave many vulnerable families without the vital support they need.

As part of its bid to reduce spending by 40 per cent, the council is proposing to turn half of the borough’s 18 children’s centres into satellite facilities, which they are calling hubs and close Valence Children’s Centre.

The hubs, which would be linked to one of eight core centres, would no longer be open full-time and a number of services would be scrapped – though it is not yet known which ones.

The authority has already agreed not to renew its �1.1million contract with charity Lifeline, which runs six of the centres, and plans to manage the centres itself.

Mum-of-two Karen Edmundson, 41, takes her son to Castle Green Children’s centre, in Gale Street, Dagenham, a Lifeline facility and one of the centres to be scaled down under the proposals.

Karen told the Post: “Castle Green has been absolutely fantastic for both my four-year-old son and me.

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“They offer so many different services. For example my son has sight problems and he took part in a course which has done wonders for him and I’m doing a law degree there through the Open University.

“It would be terrible if they got rid of some of these things and the centres were only open sometimes. A lot of families rely on them and would struggle without their support.”

Head of families at Lifeline, Paul Morton, said the cuts could leave many parents without the help they need.

“Barking and Dagenham is one of the most deprived boroughs in London,” he said, “and the free support offered at the children’s centres is so important.

“Only opening the centres at certain times of the day means they might not be able to drop in if there was a crisis at home and they needed help.”

Other centres that will be scaled down are Alibon, John Perry, Marsh Green, Mayesbrook, Sydney Russell, Furze, Manor and Ford Road.