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Health minister visits Peterborough as part of Family Hubs announcement

09 February 2023

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health, Neil O'Brien, visited one of the city's children's centres today to see the work taking place to support children and families.

The minister visited the First Steps Children and Family Centre on Welland Road, run by Barnardo's on behalf of the council, along with Council Leader Wayne Fitzgerald, Cabinet Member for Children's Services Lynne Ayres and Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

The visit took place following the Government announcement of the 75 local authorities set to receive funding as part of the Family Hubs programme.

The Family Hubs initiative is based around one-stop shops where families can access important services under one roof – online or in a building.

Peterborough has been awarded £3m and is now developing three hubs in areas of the city identified as high need.

The funding will also be used to enhance the service offering for families in the community by providing whole-family support and improving access to information online so that more families can easily access the information they need.

The hubs are for families with children of all ages, but with a good Start for Life (the critical 1,001 days from conception to age 2) offer at their core. They will be delivered through the council's existing network of support to local families including through child and family centres.

Councillor Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council's cabinet member for children's services, education, skills and the university, said: "It is fantastic news that we will receive this funding to provide even more support for families with young children.

"The first two years of a child's life are so important, and we know that a child's experiences from conception to age five play a critical role in their development,

"This funding will make it easier for families to get the help they need and to improve the support on offer, supporting us to give every child the best possible start in life.”

In particular, the Family Hubs network of organisations will work together to develop services around:

  • Supporting perinatal mental health
  • Infant feeding
  • Parenting support for those with younger children
  • Helping parents to understand the importance of the home learning environment
  • Online parenting courses

Minister Neil O’Brien said: “Every child should have the support to be able to reach their full potential. There is robust evidence that the 1,001 critical days from pregnancy to the age of two are vital for development and impact a child’s physical and emotional health for the rest of their life.

“Better access to family hubs and additional funding for critical Start for Life services will provide more families with the right support for their baby to get the best start in life – including support for mental health, building strong and healthy relationships and infant feeding.”

Kat Band, Assistant Director Children's Services for Barnardo’s, said: “We were delighted to welcome the minister to the First Steps Child and Family Centre today, in recognition of the key role that these hubs play in children’s lives. We’re proud to support local families in the community, particularly at the moment during the cost-of-living crisis.”