One minute she can be drawing a picture or trying out her reading skills, the next she’s keeping fit and active, headlong, full pelt into the ball pool.
In the two years since she and mum Sara have been going to Westfield they’ve pretty much been involved in every activity there is. From creative play to cooking fun, days out to just meeting new people and making friends…you name it.
Mum Sara, 22, has even had the chance to keep her CV updated by learning new skills in first-aid, food hygiene and how to do well in interviews.
She’s about to become a volunteer helper at the centre on Montrose Avenue, Norley Hall, and one day soon hopes to go on to college to train to become a teaching assistant.
It’s a picture of an outgoing mum and daughter that is a stark contrast to a few short years ago when Sara admits that she lacked direction, purpose and by her own admission, had few prospects in life.
“I’ve always had my family around me,” says single mum Sara. “But I didn’t really leave the house other than to go to the shops and I was feeling isolated. I didn’t really have much confidence and would never of dreamed of doing half the things I do now.”
After first hearing about the services on offer at Sure Start, Sara made a tentative first visit to the toddlers’ group with Jazmin and from then, there’s been no looking back!
Sara in particular has found a passion for cookery, or to be more specific baking, through her time with Sure Start and she’s always willing to keep any celebration at the centre well-stocked with homemade cakes!
Lisa Middlehurst, from Westfield Children’s Centre, started off as a volunteer and is now employed as the Children’s Centre Co-ordinator. She says Sara’s transformation is typical.
“We opened in 2006 and we have been providing a service that the local community really needs,” says Lisa. “It is all about helping parents to give children the best start in life but it’s also about including the whole family. “We are helping people to become better parents so in turn their children will reap the benefits and become better people. There’s always more to do and we are trying to reach out to even more parents in the area but I think it’s fair to say that Sure Start really is at the heart of the community.”
A family service
Wigan Borough currently has 20 Sure Start Children’s Centres.
Now Wigan Council wants to make the services offered by the centres even better by making sure they are really meeting the community’s needs.
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Susan Loudon, said: “The borough is facing difficult times and has lots of pressures on its budgets but we have given a commitment to protect children’s centres against the cuts. In order to do this we need to know what the people who use them actually think of them.
“We want to know which centre you use or have used; what services you have used; what you thought of them and how the Sure Start Children’s Centre has helped to change your life.”
The Wigan Sure Start Children’s Centre Questionnaire can be filled in online at Sure Start Children's Centres Questionnaire. Sure Start members can use the computer facilities at their local children’s centre to fill the form in. For more information on Sure Start in Wigan, call 01942 206205 or find your nearest centre online.