Bognor Regis Nursery on Victoria Drive
Bognor Regis Nursery on Victoria Drive
West Sussex County Council is planning on closing the Children’s Centre on Victoria Drive, which has been an essential lifeline to young families since it became a Surestart Centre in 2005. The council is giving “low footfall” as a reason, despite the fact families have unable to access services due to lockdown restrictions.
A recent social media post on Bognor Regis Matters saw many parents discuss how essential the Centre’s Breastfeeding Cafe, health visitor drop-ins and other free play sessions had been so valuable for local parents and carers and their babies, pre-schoolers and toddlers, while the family sessions at weekends and sessions for dads with bacon butties on Sundays were enjoyed by all. Parents and children benefited from the social time and the support from the trained staff.
The Centre’s facilities are excellent – the gardens and rooms and toys are state-of-the-art, very large, bright, open and welcoming. Ofsted recently reported that “the well-attended and highly effective breastfeeding clinics, workshops and cafes are helping increase breastfeeding rates”, and local mum Heather Robbins recalled that the healthworker who ran the breastfeeding cafe, Chris, was so good that mums came from other towns to ask for her help!
Local mum and former childcare provider Lydia Rankin says,

“Family services are going to be needed more than ever. They assist with so much early intervention, mental health, and wellbeing. It’s a very short-sighted cut. With the staff and volunteers helping individuals and families, they can prevent the need for other professional help further down the line. It makes me sad for other families that they won’t have that support. Also this Centre is accessible for all as you can get there with public transport whereas you can’t to others. It infuriates me beyond belief that so much money was thrown into these places, building them etc. and then they just waste them!”

Local mum and Inclusion teaching assistant Jane Charlton adds,

“I haven’t even had the chance to go to ANY groups or health visitor drop-ins due to the pandemic. The health visitors have been fab on the phones, but for a new parent, you just crave the reassurance from a face-to-face check that everything is ok. It’s been such a struggle to not properly meet and chat with other parents, to share the experience (and stress!) of a new baby, and now a toddler. A whole year of just waiting for the chance to get to go to one of these few centres and now it might close?! These will be lifelines for children who may need help with social/communication skills due to limited interactions with others from lockdowns/isolation. As well as parents to come together and finally feel not alone, to share the ups and downs from this mad year. Covid already robbed so many of us from what we hoped maternity leave and parenthood might be, please don’t take it away!”

A petition to halt the planned cuts to West Sussex Children and Family Centres can be found at Change.org – https://www.change.org/p/west-sussex-county-council-halt-the-planned-cuts-to-west-sussex-children-and-family-centres?recruiter and we urge anyone with a family who has benefitted from the Centre’s services or will need to in future to add their signature!

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