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Families protest to save Butterflies Children’s Centre

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Families wanting to keep Butterflies Children’s Centre open staged a passionate protest this week.

The protesters, waving banners and placards made their voices heard over the controversial proposals to close the centre.

They also hung tots’ clothing, featuring messages about how important the centre is to the community on a washing line at the Wakefield Road site.

Theresa Myers, 34, who has used the centre for more than five years, said: “I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would have been without the centre.

“My boys would have grown up with a stressed-out mother who had no friends or support.

“Instead, they have a confident happy mother, allowing them to be children who are confident in themselves and happy to make new friends very easily.

“I would not have been willing to travel to another place to use a centre, or have asked for one on one support without getting to know the staff first.”

Josie Farrar said: “I suffered with depression and I wouldn’t leave the house and the centre got me out of my own home and back into education.

“This centre is vital to 
Normanton, the community needs it. If we lose it, there’s nothing left in Normanton.”

A Facebook group to save the centre has been set up and hundreds of people have already signed petitions against the plans to close the centre.

Vanda France wrote on Facebook: “Butterflies centre in Normanton was a god send to me when I had my first born.

“It helped me through everyday struggles and it was lovely meeting new people and sharing experiences.

“Where are Normanton families going to go for help and support? This is a vital service that the community cannot do without.”

Plans to close 14 of the district’s 23 children’s centres, including Butterflies, were announced last month.

A three-month consultation over the proposals to centralise services into six main centres and three “linked” sites, which would offer additional support in areas of high deprivation, began on July 15.

Under the proposals, Butterflies would be transferred back to Newlands Primary School and it is unclear whether services would continue.

Coun Olivia Rowley, cabinet member for children and young people, said some of the district’s most vulnerable children were not accessing the children’s centre buildings and a service reshuffle was needed to give them the support they need.

She said; “We need to make sure that when young children and their families need help, we are delivering the services they need at the earliest opportunity.

“We know the children’s centres provide a good social structure for many people, but there’s no reason we can’t deliver that in a different location, a community centre or church hall for example, and save the cost of keeping the children’s centre building open.”

Public consultation events will be held between 6pm and 7.30pm on:

l Tuesday 9 September at The Hut, Kershaw Avenue, Airedale, Castleford

l Thursday 11 September at De Lacy Primary School, Chequerfield Lane, Pontefract

l Tuesday 16 September at Chesneys Centre, Regent Street, Featherstone

l Thursday 18 September, Ossett Town Hall, Market Place, Ossett

l Tuesday 23 September, The Grove, Stockingate, South Kirkby

l Wednesday 24 September, Havercroft and Ryhill Sports and Youth Centre, Mulberry Avenue, Havercroftll

l Tuesday 30 September, St Michael’s CE Academy, Flanshaw Lane, Wakefield

People can also give their views online by visiting www.wakefield.gov.uk/centresurvey.

 

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