PM visits and gives a renewed push to rolling out Family Hubs

Posted 9th February 2023

Image credit: BBC News 9 Feb 2023

Earlier today, Rishi Sunak was in St Austell, visiting one of Cornwall’s 23 Family Hubs. As over half of England’s local authorities work intensively on Family Hub implementation, it is a welcome moment to see the Prime Minister raising awareness of this area of family policy, which aims to strengthen families and improve outcomes for children, especially in disadvantaged and vulnerable families. 

Last month, in his 4th January speech, Sunak said that ‘family matters’, and expressed his personal commitment to supporting ‘parents to manage the demands of modern workplaces without weakening the irreplaceable bonds of family life’’. He said,

‘We’re going to roll out Family Hubs to offer parents the support they need to raise a child.’

His visit to Cornwall is further evidence of the importance of this policy to his Government. 

The Prime Minster spoke to parents who have reaped the benefits of using their local Family Hub.  They talked about how they had grown in confidence, and appreciate how helpful, supportive and accessible the staff are, whether one to one in person, or on the telephone. 

The vision of Family Hubs is to create easily accessible family support for everyone, in the knowledge that strong family relationships enhance the health of individuals and communities alike.  Alarming figures seem to be released on an almost daily basis regarding the critical state of our children and young people’s mental health, (not to mention parents), domestic abuse, addictions and parental relationship breakdown, with many families living in poverty, under immense stress and in dangerous situations.  It is a crucial moment to fast-track the delivery of Family Hubs, and it is encouraging to see the Prime Minister and Government pushing this forward as a priority. 

Cornwall is one of 75 local authorities receiving part of a £300 million fund for Family Hubs to transform their family support offer, by reshaping and building on their existing infrastructure to roll out Family Hubs.

This funding will provide thousands of families with access to support when they need it, including helping to give babies the best start in life, as set out in ‘Best Start for Life: a vision for the critical 1,001 days’ led by Dame Andrea Leadsom, which sets out six action areas to improve support for families between pregnancy and age two, including Action Area 2: ‘A welcoming hub for the family’.  

Dame Andrea Leadsom said,

‘Support for the earliest years is being transformed. Our ‘Start for Life’ offer will point families-to-be in the direction of their Family Hub, and the help they can get there will include a warm welcome, parenting advice, antenatal help, health visiting, mental health and infant feeding support and even advice on relationship building or how to get into work. There will be a strong focus on dads and co-parents who have for far too long been left out.’

A progress report will be published today outlining the progress the government has made against these commitments to date. It also sets out the government’s priorities for further work. 

Parents will be able to access a range of support through the hubs from midwifery to mental health support, health visiting to infant feeding advice. Hubs will also provide early language and communication development for young children to set the foundations for lifelong learning and prepare them for school at age five. 

One of the strengths of Family Hubs is that they are not limited to the early years, but take a family through from conception through to young people up to the age of 19, or 25 with SEND.  Families may initially experience a Family Hub through maternity, midwifery and/or early years services, but the integrated Family Hub approach means that families can continue to get help through the Family Hub through every stage of a child’s development, until adulthood. 

The Government announced 14 ‘trailblazer’ local authorities, who will receive extra funding and lead the way in supporting other local authorities to develop and roll out Family Hubs.  The 14 areas include Torbay, Sheffield, County Durham, Cornwall, Salford, Kent, Sunderland, Manchester, Northumberland, Hull, Coventry, Blackpool, East Sussex and the Isle of Wight. 

Claire Coutinho, the Children, Families and Wellbeing Minister, said: 

‘Having children can be really tough as well as bringing so much joy. All families, from time to time, will need a helping hand. Family hubs bring services together helping parents, carers, children and young people to access the support they need more easily. Parenting advice ranges from support with breast feeding and mental health to guidance on how to give children a head start on their learning.’

The Government also confirmed the final five areas to receive investment from the Family Hubs Transformation Fund, which is a different source of funding from the Family Hubs Start for Life programme. This will enable a further 12 local authorities across England to open Family Hubs by March 2024: Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole; Brighton & Hove; Cheshire East; Cumbria; Dorset; Hammersmith & Fulham; Leicestershire; Merton; Solihull; Stockport; Wirral and York.

Some local authorities which are not receiving Government funding have also adopted a Family Hub approach because they are convinced it is the most cost-effective way to support all families with integrated services, from conception right through to adulthood. 

Read the governmental press release: Thousands of families to benefit from local support in rollout of Family Hubs

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