The MP who helped pave the way for the creation of Family Hubs has visited two of the Torbay hubs to see them in action.
Dame Andrea Leadsom MP met staff and parents at the Beehive in Paignton and Zig Zags in Torquay, two of the Bay’s three Family Hubs. The third hub is located at the Barn in Brixham.
Family Hubs are a new way of bringing together all the support a family may need, from pregnancy through to young people turning 19 (or 25 if they have special educational needs or disabilities).
Earlier this year, Torbay Council was chosen by the government as one of 14 trailblazer local authorities to lead the way in delivering them.
The services have been developed in partnership with local parents and carers alongside the voluntary and community sector to ensure their needs and those of their children are met.
Dame Andrea is an Early Years Health Adviser for the Government, during which time she has published a review into reducing inequalities in the first 1,001 days of life. This helped lead to the setting up of Family Hubs.
All three Torbay hubs are run by Action for Children, a charity which works to support children and young people. The hubs themselves bring together partners from across the 0-19 sector to support families.
Dame Andrea began her visit at the Beehive in Paignton, where she met Action for Children and council staff and spoke to members of a parenting group.
She also handed out certificates at a peer supporters’ graduation ceremony, learnt more about a nappy library and joined in with a parent and baby class.
At Zig Zags, she chatted to a mum who has received support from the hub’s Better Start team. She also discovered more about peri-natal mental health and spoke to professionals who lead the Building Babies Brains programme.
Dame Andrea said: “The focus on supporting families to give every baby born in Torbay the best start for life was wonderful to see. The Beehive was buzzing with different activities from peer supporter breast feeding help to health visitor clinics and parenting classes. And ZigZags is offering one-to-one and group support for new families with birth registration soon to be available. It was a great pleasure to visit and I know there are ambitious plans for the future.”
Nick Bye, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Torbay Council, said: “These Family Hubs are intended to be welcoming and safe spaces for all families to access help at whatever age their child is. There is a wide range of support out there so we hope these hubs bring together all those services in one place.
“Parents will have opportunities to get involved with groups at our three hubs in Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, where they can pick up invaluable tips about parenting from professionals and meet other mums and dads to share their experiences.
“Alongside this, we’re also developing our Family Hubs website which will offer virtual support at a time and place that suits families.”
Rob Wyatt, Action for Children’s Operational Director of Children’s Services in the South West, said: “Family Hubs is one of the best tools we have to help families before their problems get too big, and in rare cases, spot the early signs of abuse and neglect. Every day, we see the positive impact that getting expert help early on has for the families we work with.
“We’re proud to deliver this support for families through our trailblazing 0-19 service in Torbay, across three Family Hubs and online. But sadly, we also see that more and more families are coming to us needing this help.”
Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Becoming a parent doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and we know that as well as being a magical time, it can also be a challenge for some people.
“We are committed to giving children the best start in life, and helping parents to be the best they can be during the critical first 1000 days and beyond. We are incredibly proud of our trailblazing 0-19 service, which works in partnership with a number of agencies to meet the needs of children and families, by providing invaluable help and advice on feeding, vaccinations, potty training, oral health and teething, sleep and mental health support and much more from one of three family hubs, and online from healthcare professionals, and peer supporters.
“We will continue to work with our partners to ensure services are wrapped around families and children to provide the help and support they need.”
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