Last year, we asked you to give us your views about Child & Family Centres and, in particular, whether the changes we made to our services in April 2018 had affected you.
A total of 330 responses were received. The survey ran online and was also available in a paper format within Child and Family Centres in September, October and November.
97.2% of those who responded had used the services of a Child & Family Centre before.
62% of you said that the changes had not directly affected you.
Of the 38% who said the changes had affected them, there were some clear themes:
- You felt that closure of a centre meant that you had to travel further to access groups and activities
- You feel that there are fewer activities on offer overall
- You feel that number of health clinics in centres has reduced
- You feel that it is sometimes difficult to find out what is going on and where
What are we doing now?
A year on from the change to the service, we have considered your feedback and we are making changes where we can:
- Understandably, some of you will have been directly affected by closures of some centres. We are keen, however, to ensure that our services are accessible to as diverse a range of families as possible and that we are able to reach the most vulnerable. So we are continuing to build up our outreach programme; linking with voluntary organisations and partners such as local churches, parent and toddler groups, health partners and Foodbanks to jointly deliver support and activities across the area in community venues and outdoor spaces. Child & Family Centre zones are still used to deliver outreach activities near you, such as Little Einsteins, a group for budding young scientists at Ramsey Child & Family Centre zone and in other local venues such as South Cambs Child & Family Centre’s new Music and Movement groups at Gamlingay Eco Hub and Cottenham Community Centre. We are also teaming up with community groups to deliver activities near to where you live, like pop-up play sessions run by East Cambs Child & Family Centres with the National Childbirth Trust in Prickwillow and Cake & Play with Soham Mothers’ Union. Keep an eye out for our What’s On guides and like our Facebook pages for details about what is on near you. Meanwhile, our individual support to those families most in need continues across all areas of Cambridgeshire
- Our data indicates that Child & Family Centres are delivering about the same amount of activities as this time last year. It may be, however, that some of the activities delivered in centres by our partners, e.g. health visiting teams, have reduced. Also, the service offer may be different now as we target our resource to meet identified need such as the Recovering Together programme, currently being run by Cambridge City Child & Family Centres for mothers and children aged 8-10 who have experienced domestic abuse. Whilst there may be fewer weekday activities open to all, there are more weekend, after school and school holiday activities which are open to a wider age range so that the whole family can attend. For example, the Child & Family Centre in Wisbech has introduced Science on a Saturday and an after school club called Family Fun. Meanwhile, our Family Workers continue to deliver one-to-one intensive support to families who need it most; supporting with issues like low mental health, domestic abuse, substance misuse and debt and group work is delivered to meet identified need, Our Child & Family Centre Workers are also ensuring that we reach our most vulnerable families by visiting hostels and Foodbanks to offer support and advice.
- Health clinics in Child & Family Centres are run by Cambridgeshire Community Services (NHS) and the way their health visiting service is delivered has also changed recently. However, we do work closely together and we are considering the possibility of self-weigh stations in Child & Family Centres so that families will have the facility to weigh their baby at any time during opening hours.
- Respondents were asked how they find out about the services and activities provided by the Child & Family Centre and they were asked to mark their top three ways. Facebook was the most popular choice, with almost twice as many respondents using this than the ‘What’s On’ guide. The third most common way of finding out about our services is via word of mouth.
Most (66%) of you said that the What’s On guide is easy to use. However, some of you find the layout confusing. Some would prefer the guide to be organised by geographical area, whilst some would prefer to see it laid out by days of the week. We will be looking at re-designing our Autumn 2019 What’s On guides, so that they are easier to use.
Other ways of communication
We asked you if there were other ways (apart from Facebook and What’s On) that we could use to let you know about our services. Your top five other communication methods are:
- Internet search engine
- Parish/local magazine
We have refreshed our email distribution lists following the implementation of GDPR, so we will now be able to send you more by email. Also, we are looking into mass texting methods and, where possible, we will advertise in local parish magazines. We will be piloting the use of Instagram in East Cambridgeshire and reviewing it after a period of three months. If successful, we will widen use across the county.