Families in Corby are being urged to turn out in their hundreds for a rally against cuts that will hit children across the county.
Northamptonshire County Council wants children’s centres to tighten their belts with funding cuts of up to 25 per cent.
But people running the 4Corby Children campaign will tomorrow (Saturday) hold a public event to oppose the cuts which they say will hurt families that use centres in the town every day.
Corby is home to Pen Green, which was the first children’s centre in the UK, and three other centres: Exeter, Woodnewton and Kingswood.
The Ronald Tree and Thornton centres in Kettering as well as Croyland and Oakway in Wellingborough will shut. And although none of Corby’s centres are under threat of closure, many services will be slashed.
The protest is being spearheaded by campaign co-ordinator Zoe Winters and Sandra Mole, a community development worker.
Sandra said: “We already had a 10 per cent cut last year and they want to cut another 25 per cent off that.
“We can’t cut our targeted services for those families who are already in the system.
“So among the things that will go are groups that are open to anyone. Those like baby massage and messy play and cooking groups.
“Those classes are not about the activities - they’re about giving mums a chance to meet others in the same situation.
“They’re about giving help to people who are not on the radar of social services but may need general support.
“Through groups like that we can provide early intervention and pick up things like breastfeeding issues, problems with domestic violence, post-natal depression.
“Children’s centres are not just for people who are poor or already ‘in the system’, they’re for anyone to come in.
“It’s those people who will just end up with nowhere to go.”
The campaign estimates that the budget reduction will be about £172 for each child in Corby.
Zoe said: “A lot of parents in Corby are young and vulnerable. I was 20 when I had my child and I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I came into the community room at Pen Green to sit here because he had trouble settling in the nursery. When you’re a new mum and you come somewhere like this and you’re laden down with changing bags and equipment and someone comes and takes your bag and gets you a drink - that’s the kind of support you need and that’s the kind of support that will be lost if children’s centres close.
“The amazing thing about places like Pen Green is that you come here and see your child doing things that you would never see them doing at home because you just don’t have the resources.
“We want people to come along tomorrow with banners, in brightly-coloured clothing, and make as much noise as possible to show the strength of feeling.
“Corby is an amazing town and we’re proud to be speaking up for our children.”
The group has a Facebook site and an online petition here which they are hoping will reach 2,000 signatures to trigger a full council debate.
There is also a public consultation event at the Cube on Friday, April 8 from 4pm to 6pm. And you can have your say on the Northamptonshire County Council consultation here
Tomorrow’s rally at the Corby Cube runs from 10am to 12noon.