Eager workers get off to a great start

15th April 2005 at 01:00
Sure Start Battersea offers a creche and parents' support as well as speech therapy and outreach to the local Somali community. It also boasts another bonus - staff bursting with enthusiasm for the success of a key government policy.

Whatever the national data, workers here and in similar programmes across the country are sure their efforts are paying off.

Parents who come in to play sessions with their toddlers support one another, make new friends and build their confidence, staff say. Several have gone on to train as group leaders. One, Lucy Bartley, now works as the programme's young parents' support worker.

"I can think of one young woman who came to the group when she was pregnant at 14," she says. "She'd been homeless in the past. Now she's 17, she's been housed with her partner, she's volunteering at Sure Start and she's got a part-time job as well as doing a fantastic job with her daughter. Her confidence has grown and grown. Once her daughter is at school she'll be looking for full-time work and we'll be able to give her a brilliant reference. That's just one example out of many."

But she admits the programme targets are challenging: "I sometimes look at my targets and think, 'Oh my goodness!' But I know that what's happening on the ground is really, really good."

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