When you’re bringing up children, life can be tough at the best of times, but the cost-of-living crisis has increased the pressure on many families.
Sutton’s network of family hubs is helping by offering a single place to get support with a range of practical, social, emotional and financial issues. Crucially, the hubs give people the chance to seek help at an early stage – before problems become overwhelming.
Through a mix of physical and virtual places to meet, families can get non-judgmental support for the challenges they face. This could be anything from debt or housing advice, to support for new parents or mental health drop-in sessions for young people.
I need this service and I believe the other parents do too.”
According to one parent who has used the hubs, they have been invaluable, offering everything from help filling in forms to a listening ear, while signposting her to other services. She called the hubs, “a safe space to be vulnerable without judgement,” which “improves my confidence and self-esteem when I’m feeling as though the world is on my shoulders. I need this service and I believe the other parents do too.”
It’s great to be able to give something back to other parents in my community.”
Another parent, Chris Humphries, has used and volunteered with the service. He explained how getting involved has been life changing: “I’m meeting amazing people and hearing about different experiences. It’s great to be able to give something back to other parents in my community. I feel that I’ve come a long way from where I started 15 months ago. I never thought that I would be leading and volunteering at a parent coffee session.”
Funded by Sutton Council, the borough currently has four family hubs. While each one is tailored to its local community, they all operate with the same ethos – of providing early access, connecting people and building relationships. Each hub has developed, based on feedback from parents, to reflect the needs of the community. For example, one hub offers holiday lunch clubs with fun and games and a healthy meal for all. Others have after school nurse drop-ins and local refugee support groups.
The service also has four family hub connectors who work across the borough, meeting families and signposting them to practical help – information about accessing childcare or welfare support, for example.
They include Maja Nielsen, who explained about the coordinators’ wide reach. “By attending community events, such as Sutton Refugee and Migrant Network drop-in or Sutton Community Shop, I am able to reach those families that may not know about the help available to them in Sutton,” she said.
“For example, I recently met a parent who initially needed childcare advice, but after discussion, I found she was very isolated as a newcomer to the country. I have therefore put her in touch with a local charity that works to reduce isolation.”
Find Sutton’s family hubs
- Sutton Family Hub: Central Library, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA.
- Wallington Family Hub: Phoenix Leisure Centre, Mollison Drive, Wallington, SM6 9NZ.
- Cheam & South Sutton Family Hub: Belmont GP Centre, 10 Hardegray Close, Sutton, SM2 5LT
- Carshalton Family Hub & Children’s Centre: Tweeddale Road, Carshalton, SM5 1SQ.
More information can be found on the Sutton health and care website.