Union unveils proposals to save popular Lambeth kids' clubs

Streatham Guardian: Members of the lunchtime childcare club in Norwood Park. Members of the lunchtime childcare club in Norwood Park.

Unions have drawn up a survival plan for lunchtime childcare clubs that are facing closure following massive budget cuts.

Members of Lambeth Unison believe their proposals could ensure the long-term success of the one o’clock clubs across nine sites including West Norwood, Clapham and Brixton.

Budgets for youth services were slashed by £12m in 2011 and the council is planning a further £13m eduction in 2012.

In a recent report to the council, the union said a “co-ordinated one o’clock club service”, which was “co-produced” by parents, carers and existing staff was preferable to a reduced service.

It said each site would employ two members of staff and would be open for four rather than three days a week.

It said: “Workers feel their service has been run down by management over recent years.

“Popular aspects of the service, such as the provision of refreshments, have been withdrawn.

“This proposal sets out in a practical and concrete way how Lambeth Council can work with staff and users to build upon decades of co-production of the one o’clock clubs service.

“It is clear parents and carers value the ability to socialise with each other while children play and, therefore, contribute to the value of the service for each other.”

One club user, whose son has special needs, voiced her support for the proposals, saying: “This is the only mainstream group we can access because of the unstructured play and accepting environment.”

Jon Rogers, chairman of Lambeth Unison, said: “Now we have shown the council how the service can be saved within their budget and in line with their aspirations for co-production of services, Unison and the staff hope they will show they truly are co-operative.”

Councillor Rachel Heywood, cabinet member for children and families, said she welcomed the unions’ report, but said any alternative service would need to be delivered within a set budget.

She said: “We will be making a decision very soon so we can move into this new way of providing a much valued service.”

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