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‘A safe place which many will be lost without’: Parents defend Norfolk children’s centres

PUBLISHED: 11:00 28 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 28 October 2018

Corrina Brock and her son William, five, at the North City Children's Centre in Norwich during a vist by Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Corrina Brock and her son William, five, at the North City Children's Centre in Norwich during a vist by Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Families turned out in droves for Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to a Norfolk children’s centre to defend a valuable lifeline in their community.

Parents who use the North City Children’s Centre spoke of the friends they had made, the vast variety of services available, and the comfort the centre had provided in times of need.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn says closing children’s centres in Norfolk would be ‘disastrous’

For Patricia Baladez, 34, the centre provided a social lifeline when she and her husband moved to Norfolk from London after the birth of their daughter Lucia, two.

“I left my job so we could come here. Suddenly I didn’t know anyone and I was at home all the time with the baby. Then I discovered the children’s centre and I have been coming four or five days a week,” she said.

Jeremy Corbyn visit the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Pictured are centre users Patricia Baladez and her daughter Lucia, two. Picture: Bethany WhymarkJeremy Corbyn visit the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Pictured are centre users Patricia Baladez and her daughter Lucia, two. Picture: Bethany Whymark

“It means a lot. I have met most of my friends here. For me it has been like a salvation to be honest. If they got closed it would be awful.”

Jason Slack, 40, and wife Tia have been bringing their children Abigail, two, and Lucas, 10 months, since birth.

Mr Slack said: “They are very positive and happy places. Every community needs a hub like this, a safe place to play. There will be a lot of parents who will feel lost without it.”

Corrina Brock began coming to the centre when her son William, now five, was eight weeks old. Since then she has used services including two outreach groups, baby first aid training and stay and play sessions.

Jeremy Corbyn visits the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Pictured are centre users Jason Slack and his daughter Abigail, two. Picture: Bethany WhymarkJeremy Corbyn visits the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Pictured are centre users Jason Slack and his daughter Abigail, two. Picture: Bethany Whymark

Without the centre, she said she would have “suffered alone”.

“To me it became a safe place where I was not judged and felt listened to. Being a parent to a newborn can be an extremely lonely and overwhelming experience,” she said.

“It concerns me greatly that others will not have this permanent fixture on their door steps. They will not have somewhere or someone to turn to.”

Natalie Smith, 32, has been bringing daughter Vivienne, two, to the centre since she was born after its post-natal classes were recommended by her health visitor.

Natalie Smith and daughter Vivienne, bottom left, with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn at the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Picture: Bethany WhymarkNatalie Smith and daughter Vivienne, bottom left, with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn at the North City Children's Centre in Angel Road, Norwich. Picture: Bethany Whymark

She said: “It made so much difference to us to come here.

“We met a lot of people through the classes who we still keep in touch with and I am having another baby who I hope to bring here too.

“Just knowing you can come here and it is free, it is such a great resource.”

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