Families in County Durham will be able to access additional support services with the launch of new family hubs across the county.
Durham County Council’s first family hub was unveiled by the government’s Early Years Health Adviser, Dame Andrea Leadsom, in Bishop Auckland this week.
Dame Leadsom officially opened the hub as part of a series of visits to the 14 local authorities which were selected as trailblazers for the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme.
The programme will see 75 areas benefiting from the £300 million investment up to 2025, with the new hubs offering support from conception through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
As a trailblazer County Durham will fast-track delivery of these services, leading the way and supporting other local authorities to improve services that are offered to families.
The programme will see County Durham transform its One Point family centres into Family Hubs, providing additional services to families in one place from pregnancy through a child’s early years until they reach adulthood.
This includes seeing midwives and health visitors, help with breastfeeding, support for dads, mental health support, parenting support, and help with budgeting, relationships and children’s learning and development
During the visit, Dame Leadsom met staff who will be working at the hub as well as families and organisations who will utilise the services provided. Among these were Anne-Marie Marshall and her son Isaac who is eight months old.
Anne-Marie said: “I usually visit the hubs to come to the free play groups with my little one Isaac. Its lovely seeing him interacting with the other babies, while I get a chance to chat with the other parents.
“If you ever need to pick anyone’s brains on things such as feeding, the family workers are always there. The support you get from the other parents as well is great.
“There is something there for everyone and, as Isaac grows-up, I am confident we will get the support we need through all the different services on offer.”
Dame Leadsom said: “It was a huge honour to be invited to attend the launch of the County Durham Family Hubs programme in Bishop Auckland. Meeting the gorgeous babies and their parents was a highlight of the visit. So too was seeing the excellent work that was already underway at the hub.”
Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dame Leadsom to our Bishop Auckland Family Hub as the first centre to open with additional services as part of the programme rollout in County Durham. Over coming months, we will be transforming the help we offer through our network of Family Hubs across the county.
“This is really helping us to transform our former family centres and being selected as a trailblazer authority has allowed us to quickly get more services and support for parents, carers and children across the county.”
• Pictured above: Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, Dame Andrea Leadsom, Naomi Slack and Vinnie Lupton two-years-old from Bishop Auckland, and Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services.