Labour plans for universal childcare

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Ed Milliband has pledged in his new year message to pursue the policy of universal childcare for all pre-school children and to make childcare a priority, if elected as Prime Minister.(Guardian 30 December 2013).In a Guardian interview the shadow childcare minister, Lucy Powell, said of free universal pre-school childcare: “I’d love it to be [introduced]. My job is to make the political and economic case for childcare, not just the childcare offer that we have right now but an extension of that. I am absolutely firmly of the belief that if you invest in childcare it pays for itself over time because it increases maternal employment rates.”

In the SmithMartin Partnership, childcare has always been seen as one of the most fundamental needs of young families. Over the last 5 years it has increased in cost and the argument for developing universal childcare which is affordable and accessible for all remains highly important.

The case for universal childcare was indeed a key part of the previous Labour Party initiatives and with the development of Sure Start provided a platform for a major plank of Early Years programmes for quality Early Years education.

Naomi Einsenstadt developed the concept of Sure Start within the Dept. of Children, Schools and Families, and the move into Sure Start Children’s Centres.Image 1

Good quality childcare enables young children to receive good early years education, to reduce the effects of poverty and to give families a vision for the future.

We hope that this recent statement from Labour will turn into a reality.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – bringing communities together

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Youth Services



The end of the summer holidays is fast approaching, have we seen the final acts of youth services as clubs and activities struggle to continue.


Youngsters in King’s Lynn park, Norfolk. Across the county around 300 youth projects have closed, as well as council-run youth centres. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

Much has been heard of the issues in inner city areas and indeed problems are large and significant. But it was interesting to see in the Society Guardian, Wednesday 24 August 2011 a whole page spread on the cuts to youth services in Norfolk, focusing on the town of King’s Lynn.There are many towns like King’s Lynn across the country and to quote Canon Bill Hurdman, whilst ministering in King’s Lynn,

It has all the problems of an inner city area without any of the buzz”

A group of young people are interviewed outside the supermarket, where they have already been banned from gathering in groups of more than two.

The youth centre at Providence St has been closed, not the most inspiring of places, but at least was a place they young people could go, talk to their mates, have some fun and maybe learn at the same time.

This loss is being replicated across the country. What effect will this have? More importantly how will the morale and aspirations of young people find a place in all our towns.

Sue Martin

SmithMartin Partnership LLP, developing community projects.

Charities, Community Groups
and where to from here…



Charities face closures as local authorities slash funding, making the delivery of community projects somewhere between hard and impossible.

Acevo (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) had already shown that the sector will lose £750 million this year if central and local government passed on cuts proportionately.’ Guardian Tuesday 2nd August 2011.

Research from False Economy shows that more than 2000 charities face cuts. Zoe Williams in the Guardian, Thurs 4th August 2011 says that ‘…philanthrocapitalism often looks a lot more like capitalism than it does philanthropy.’

Our partnership work is very much at the ground level; working with people in communities, the centres, the staff, the volunteers and children and families. There’s a lot of resilience and a feeling that although funding and support from the last few good years is coming to an end it doesn’t have to signify a finality to all the good work and the spirit of the community.

The problems have not gone away, they are now papered over or simply removed from the political agenda.

But community development is more than just provision of economic funding; social wealth, creative wealth and spirit of support remain.

There are ways through hard times, social enterprise being one, allowing you to be in charge of your own destiny and economic sustainability is a very powerful opportunity for good.

(Image courtesy of Ridgeway Park Children Centre )

SmithMartin Partnership LLP

Bringing communities together