Friday, 1 May 2009

Shadow Minister visits Chatham

I have had another fabulous Friday visiting various people and projects in Chatham. The day started off with a visit to the Hanover Association sheltered accommodation scheme in Dornden Gardens. I was invited to their regular coffee morning and it was great to meet some of the residents and listen to their concerns. They had been worried about crime but following an email communication from the estate manager to me, the local police have now been in touch. It is great when you feel you've been able to help - it may feel like a small thing to do but for the residents it has made a huge difference.

After leaving Dornden Gardens, Cllr David Wildey and I went to meet Shadow Families Minister Maria Miller MP for a tour of the All Saints Sure Start Centre in Magpie Hall Road, Chatham. Although Labour have been spreading malicious rumours that a Conservative Government would cut funding for Sure Start, the local Labour councillors asked if they could accompany us on the visit, which of course I agreed, but then sadly failed to turn up. It was a shame because the All Saints Sure Start Centre is, in my opinion, one of the best in the country and Maria very firmly reassured the manager of the Centre that Sure Start is safe under the Conservatives. She said “Sure Start is at the heart of how Conservatives will help strengthen family life and rebuild our broken society. Under a Conservative government Sure Start will develop further with Sure Start health visitors offering every family support throughout pregnancy and those important early years. Labour are guilty of spreading scare stories. We have no plans to cut services at all. It is shameful that parents and Sure Start staff are being worried and misled in this way."

Personally I was delighted that Maria took the time to visit the All Saints Sure Start Centre which without doubt provides an invaluable service for local parents. It is outrageous that Labour politicians are trying to claim a Conservative Government would not long support Sure Start when we are actually proposing to develop them further. But one thing is for certain Sure Start would be safe under a future Conservative Government.

After our visit to All Saints Sure Start, we headed up to the purpose built Place2Be centre in the grounds of Lordswood Infant and Junior School. The Place2Be is an innovative award-winning charity that works inside schools to improve the emotional wellbeing of children, their families and the whole school community. We met counsellors, parents and children involved in Place2Be and Place2Talk and were both extremely impressed by the impact of the project which for many is simply life changing. I was deeply affected by what I saw and heard at the Place2Be in Lordswood and hope that schemes like this continue to get the full support they deserve both nationally and locally.




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