AN ANGUISHED Worcester mum has spoken of her devastation at children's centre cuts - saying her family would be "lost" without them.

Nicki Perrins, 33, has poured her heart out at the sadness it is causing her, saying "I'm not sure where we'd be at with our family life" had it not been for the service.

The mum-of-two, who lives near Pershore with fiancée Paul Lloyd, 34, has two young children aged four and 17 months.

Amber, the four-year-old, has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which makes simple everyday tasks challenging and they were referred to a support worker at a council children's centre to help them.

She says the support is "invaluable" and has helped "turn my family's life around" while they bring up 17-month-old Maisie.

On Wednesday a controversial county council consultation over slashing spending on children's centres from £6.4 million to £3 million is winding up, with more than 1,000 parents signing a petition against it.

The cuts, as the Worcester News has revealed in recent weeks, will see services reduced at 18 of the 32 sites under proposals to hand them to schools or childcare organisations with vastly reduced funding.

Ms Perrins said: "Without this service I'm not sure where we'd be at with our family life right now.

"I feel so devastated that services like these mentioned could be cut.

"My fear is, there are so many other parents out there who have and are experiencing the same as we have in the past two years, where will these people go to for support?

"In those times when someone is totally and utterly desperate will more parents be faced with visits from social services, when all they need is someone like a family support worker to pick them up and tell them everything is going to be ok?"

She used the Worcester's Saffron children's centre or antenatal appointments when her first child was born in 2012, before moving out of the city.

Ms Perrins, a keen blogger, says she found Evesham's Orchard Vale centre a vital help after finding life "quite isolating" somewhere new.

She then accessed Blossom Vale in Pershore, which the family credits with helping them access a family support worker for Amber and keep young Maisie busy.

"Without the activity groups I fear many other parents will be completely lost and isolated, especially first time mothers," she said.

The warning comes as Worcestershire County Council insists it is doing everything it can to minimise the impact on parent's mental health.

Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Whenever any decisions like this are made, we do impact assessments before anything is finalised.

"It is very difficult, but every effort is being made to ensure people's well-being is considered - it's the children most in need we will focus on."


A SUGGESTION is being made to let parents run their own play schemes under a council-backed 'co-operative' project.

Councillor Richard Udall, who chairs the Labour group at County Hall, says the idea would be aimed to helping mums and dads crippled by rocketing childcare costs.

It also comes at a time when many of the fun activities at the children's centres, like 'stay and play' sessions for toddlers or day clubs, face the chop.

The inspiration for the idea has come from credit unions, which have set up in Worcestershire after direct county council assistance.

Councillor Udall says County Hall could offer operational support, training and assistance for parents to launch co-operative style play groups - maybe even starting with their own staff.

Councillor Udall said: "One of the biggest costs for families is childcare, the cheapest summer play schemes in Worcester are about £20 a day, simply unaffordable for many.

"Parents are forced to reduce working hours during holidays, work term-time only or take unpaid leave.

"We need to look at other more imaginative ways to help, only the county council can step in and give the leadership to enable families to take control and form co-operatives to help each other."