This page serves to document all our archived news articles for 2003. Please note all content and images are ©Five Children and Families Trust.

There was a great Christmas atmosphere at St Christophers Junior School, who were kind enough to let us use their hall and stage. Over 100 people attended the fantastic production of 'Jack and the Beanstalk'.

There were lots of family members including dads who enjoyed a great evening with plenty of laughs.

The 'Play and Stay' at the venny was also getting in the festive mood making Christmas stockings. The Venny will be decorating their art room for the Sure Start Grotto and the place has already in the Christmas mood with a huge Santa and sleigh on the walls. Ann and Tom work with the children and produce some amazing pieces of work (its worth going to have a look at).

The Sure Start Grotto was held on the Saturday 13th December. Over 100 children and their parents and carers attended. The day was full of Christmas spirit, with Ann and the team from the Venny having done a fantastic job of decorating the Grotto.

The team all donned their usual fancy dress outfits, including Elves, Santa's Wife and even Rudolf turned up. Mandy started off the carol singing and the children and their parents joined. There was a Samba Band, courtesey of Art's in Regeneration, who played some great tunes outside and Mandy and Susan bopped away to Christmas songs.

The children from the Venny made some lovely Christmas candles which sold out immediately and St Aidans volunteers held a bric-a-brac table sale which the children loved to collect for their families.

The team would like to say a big thank-you to Ann,Tom, Elsie and Danny from Speke Adventure Playground all their hard work and for making it such for a lovely day.

Jack is one of the children who has been attending the Sure Start activites since he was one and now has started Middlefield Nursery. His mum Shirley says "Jack has just loved Nusery from day one and never wants to leave. He loves mixing with other children."

Sure Start aims to help children with that important first step of starting school and encourages them to reach their full potential.


The Sure Start Dads group has started up again! On Saturday 4th October, 6 dads, their partners and all their children, met up for a fun day at the Spayce Playce. The Dads were getting acquainted with each other and had a nice relaxing afternoon watching the kids climbing and playing on the apparatus.

Tonia, pictured with one of the dads (not her own I might add), is learning to walk and grabbed anyone passing for a walk around and James (pictured) was happy to volunteer.

The next Burton Manor trip is coming up on Friday 17th October. There are still a couple of places left so if you are interested please contact Ann-Marie.

Sure Start tots café launch was a big success!! Children and parents came along to the opening at Speke Adventure playground on Sept 24 and loved the child-friendly atmosphere with miniature tables, chairs and bright Winnie the Pooh tableware.

Guests were seated at their own tables and admired the flowers and listened to soft music whilst staff took their orders.

Everyone sampled the mouth-watering food including spaghetti bolognese, corned beef hash and lentil hotpot with fresh fruit and yoghurt or banana in coconut custard for dessert and all agreed the food was great and even had seconds. Parents and children both enjoyed the opportunity to sit down together and to chat and eat and really seemed to relax and enjoy the experience.

The café is run by local parents Michelle, Jenny and Cathy who worked hard to make the day successful and where rushed off their feet but agreed it was worth the effort. Children also got their faces painted and a tots café balloon and left with full tummies a big smile and looking forward to next week.

The Tots café will be open each Wednesday 12-1pm at Speke Adventure Playground and will cost £2.00 for parent and child for a 2 course meal and drink.

Sure Start Midwife
Trish Freeman has spent 25 years working in the health service, 15 of those year in general nursing and 10 years in midwifery. In January 1998 following the birth of her son Trish became a community midwife. Speke has been an area of her work since then.

Trish's present role is to provide support and education to local families working with and to complement the existing midwifery team. Her aim is to expand on maternity services, tailored to local needs.

Sure Start Health Worker
Finola Anderton is the new Sure Start Health Worker for Speke. Her main role will be to work with mums who are expecting a baby before their 20th birthday, offering support and advice both before and after the baby is born.

Finola has come to work with the Sure Start team and the families in Speke, having previously worked as a Health Visitor in another area of Liverpool.

The last day of the play scheme went down with one big Summer Splash, although the weather was so miserable and we just about made it through the afternoon without a real downpour. In the morning the children finished off painting their pencil pot holders (Domonic one of the Dads was quite engrossed as he painted his own pot).

In the afternoon the fun really started as families enjoyed tucking into a tasty barbecue. There was a water fight, and children blasted their water pistols on everyone in sight. Staff made a water slide from tarpoling, as you can imagine the children loved slipping and sliding and having lots of fun. Parents and staff joined in the fun too with Paula, Mandy,Irene and Judy getting a bit carried away pouring buckets of water over each.

The day ended with playtime on the apparatus and toys in the hall. Then the volunteers were presented with thank you cards and chocolates for all their hard work. We'd also like to say a big thank you to Fran, School Secretary at St Christophers, who was a joy to work with, nothing was too much trouble for her. Not to mention 13 year old Sophie, (who all the children adored) and was a fantastic help with all the activities.

There were a few sad goodbyes but the feed back from parents and children was excellent. Here are a few of the parents comments.

A series of events to celebrate National Childminding week (14th - 21st June) was arranged, and on Monday 16th June we went on a trip to Greenacre Farm Park. The children had a great day and the weather, thankfully, was good. There was loads of activities for the children to take part in, including; tractor rides and feeding baby goats and lots of other other animals.

We held a multi-cultural heathy eating event on Wednesday 18th June and the children enjoyed badge-making, cooking pizzas and tasting different types of foods from various cultures, painting European flags (that were used for display purposes), dressing up in play clothes and using a number of different instruments, all from a variety of cultures.

On Friday 20th June, for those childminders who had sucessfully completed the accredited childcare training (held at the Greenbank Sport Academy), we held an awards ceremony and buffet.

Sure Start Summer Splash: Camelot The latest trip with the Sure Start Summer Splash was a fun family day out. Two buses left Speke early Tuesday 26 August. Over 100 people enjoyed an action-packed day with plenty to do for all ages (including parents who enjoyed the rides at the theme park).

The pictures show the staff being dared by the children to join in the rides even though some were terrified of heights. The weather started off quite grey but later on the sun started to appear through the clouds. The queues weren't too bad either, considerng it was school holiday time.

The children were spoilt for choice with rides in the park, and loved feeding the goats and other animals on the farm.

The last Summer Splash session is on Thursday 28th August with a beach party and barbecue. The children are going to get the chance to bring in their water pistols and soak staff as well as their friends. Pictures wiil be on the website next week if you want to keep up with the latest crazy days held by Sure Start.

June was designated as National Sure Start month so it was very apt that work began to transform the old Speke library into our £1.8 million Children and Family Centre.

The project is jointly funded through Sure Start and ERDF, and we are working in partnership with a range of local agencies, including South Liverpool Regeneration, Speke Garston Partnership and SMART, which will move its headquarters and out of school Kids Club into the new centre.

The existing library building will be extended front, back and upwards to create two storeys. It will be totally refurbished to create a modern new design, incorporating curved walls and outdoor water features.

This is a development led by the community for the community and it will create a very welcoming and stimulating environment for children and their families.

Designed with help from local parents, the Centre will contain a nursery, a toy library, a real childrenÂ’s kitchen, community cafe with internet access for all the family. If the children are bored with the internet they go off and play in our courtyard play area which includes a series of water channels for the children to play with. Remember not to put their best clothes on when you visit.

There will be a family room for people to drop in for coffee mornings or some of the regular sessions run by health visitors and community midwives. Speke Advice Service is also moving into the new building so families can access a range of services and advice.

We are particularly proud of our neighbourhood nursery which will provide full day care for 21 children. Our most innovative feature is our Play Pod inside the nursery; children will be able to climb up into a wonderful space that can be anything from a submarine to a space ship.

Those who are new to the centre will be able peep out at the world below from a safe place until they feel they want to join in, staff can have quiet story time or noisy play sessions and by making good use of different textures and lights inside the pod we can change the mood and create a sensory environment for children.

We are setting up a waiting list for nursery places at the moment; give Ann Paulett a ring to find out more about this exciting development or to book a place for next year.

The Sure Start Carnival turned out to be a great success. The team and SLH caretakers were on site very early Saturday to set up activities and hang the bunting up.

The Carnival was opened by local councillor Dorren Knight and started with a parade which was led by 3 bug stilt walkers and a band of African drummers. There was plenty of community spirit with lots of children donning fantastic fancy dress costumes and decorated prams for the competition.

Costumes varied from from a Teddy Bear's picnic, a mobile phone, jack in the box, Spanish girls and and not forgetting our very own Story Teller Mandy as a book. There was 3 generations from one family who joined in the fun. Winner of the adult prize was grandmother Pearl who made an excellent Artful Dodger with her grandson as Oliver and Pearl's daughter Debbie was a fairy.

The parade lasted an hour, more than we anticipated. There was a huge African Drum carried by staff which contributed to the hold up. People came out of their houses to watch and some joined the parade as we walked the route.

The weather was glorious and families were entertained by a clown, SLH dance troup, Elite Majorettes, play area, arts and crafts, face painting and games led by Eddie Bowman and Nikki Oates. Organisations such as Home Start, SLH and the Credit Union were giving freebies with information packs.

The police attended with mounted horses which always goes down a treat with the very young audience. The Fire Brigade and Crime Stoppers who were marking personal items supported the day.

The Early Learning Centre were there with some of their team who brought a bouncy castle and face painted many children throughout the day.

The Venny supplied hot food throughout the day with a very long queue constantly. Ann Shaw from the Venny worked flat out after making 20 children fancy dress costumes with all the effort paying off with a couple of them picking up prizes.

There was plenty of comments on how everyone who attended had a great day and we are hoping this will be a annual summer event.

Sure Start would like to say a big thanks to all the organisations who helped make the day a great success and for all families who attended in fancy dress and decorated prams. Also everyone else who attended with their support making the day most enjoyable.

The Dickson family There was another fantastic day a Gullivers World for the families of Speke to celebrate Fathers Day on saturday 14th June. Gullivers was over run with 6 different Sure Starts across Merseyside.

It was a glorious day and 120 people attended with plenty of dads around which makes a special family out. There were also grandparents on hand for support who came to join in the fun.

The smiles beaming on faces gave the impression that everyone had a great day out.

The Dickson family pictured said "We've had a lovely day and thanks to Sure Start, we are looking forward to the next trips out with the boys in the Summer." Kenny is a regular attender at the activites and was at the quad biking last month.

Gareth also pictured enjoyed joining his daughter on all the rides and said: "It's been a lovely day the weather has also made it more enjoyable."

Mandy the Bookstart Plus worker found herself a new dancing partner but he was a little dead on his feet. It was good to see everyone have a fun-filled day out. Everyone as they arrived home exhausted for 4.30pm thanked the team for a lovely day.

There will be trips out to Greenacre Farm and Chester Zoo in the Summer holidays so watch for dates coming up shortly.

Day out at the Carden Park Hotel 11 dads and carers went to Carden Park Hotel where they got the chance to act like boys again quad biking around the hotel grounds and around a track. There was a spare seat going so the dads challenged staff to to have ago. Ann-Marie decided to give it a whirl even though she had endured plenty of women driving jokes on the way up there.

This is what she said: "I've never done anything like that before and at first I was jumping like a kangeroo which kept Paula and the dads watching amused. Once I got the hang of it I was away, nearly falling off when I hit the bumps. The funniest thing was when one of the dads got stuck in the mud and I was trying to lift the bike with him on it. We swapped around which was more successful.

Being a lap behind the others I appeared to be ahead of everyone when I was surrounded by 3 quads. I think there was a bit of a male ego trip going on with the thought of a woman driver looking like the winner. It was a good experience and I would do it again. The dads then challenged staff for a song on the minibus on the journey home but we declined - they were told they'd have to wait for the next trip when we will be visiting Gullivers World and it will be nursery rhymes for their children."

Ian, one of the dads who would make a great stand up comedian and is guaranteed to have everyone in stiches, said: "it's been a great day - a lovely place to visit and I can't wait for the next trip out."

All the dads and carers thanked the staff for a great day and will all be attending the day trip to Gullivers World with the rest of their families on 14th June to celebrate Fathers Day. Families interested can collect tickets from the Sure Start office and are £1.00 per head.

In Sept 2004 I will be trekking to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the greatest mountain in Africa.

I'll be helping to raise £75,000 for Diabetes UK which will support the vital research programme and make a difference to the lives of people with Diabetes.

Diabetes became part of my life when my son was diagnosed with the condition four years ago at the age of three, so this is a personal challenge too.

I have agreed to raise a minimum of £2,750 (more if possible) before I take part in the trek and will be organising various fundraising events during the next year.

Please help me to reach my target and support Diabetes UK to help find a cure for this condition which is affecting more children and adults than ever before.

If you would like to make a donation (any amount will be greatly appreciated) please email .

Diabetes UK is a national charity for people with Diabetes. They offer a range of information services including a magazine and a helpline.

Contact: 02074 241000 or click this link:

Liverpool Parent Support Group
The Liverpool Parent support group which is affiliated to Diabete UK meets on a monthly basis at Alder Hey Hospital. The group runs various events and trips for families of children with Diabetes and invites a range of guest speakers to attend meetings.

We organise an annual family weekend away and a big Christmas party. So, if you have a child with Diabetes please come along. We're very friendly and always welcome new families.

For further information on the Liverpool Parents Support Group contact Chris McRoe (Chairperson) on: 0151 724 6647, or email .

Chris McRoe

Merseyside Development Foundation Awards Merseyside Development Foundation recently organised an event to recognise local women who are the unsung heroines of their families, neighbours and communities in Merseyside. One hundred women were chosen from the many hundreds of nominations submitted by the general public and local agencies.

Congratulation to award winners Lainy O'Callaghan, Tracy Taylor and Cathy Bullock (volunteer support workers) and Catharine Ball (volunteer counsellor) at Speke Garston Domestic Violence Project. The project is proud to have such women as volunteers and, appreciates the recognition shown towards their efforts. All winners were presented with commemorative certificates, goblets and book of the event before being wined and dined for the evening.

Cherie Booth QC, The Lord Mayor, Lady Kirsty Pilkington and Dr Maureen Williams were speakers at the event and contributed to the enjoyment of the evening by mingling with the women for photoshoots.

Speke Garston Domestic Violence Project would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all women who contribute to making a difference in Merseyside for organising this event that recognised their efforts and proved an extraordinary evening for extraordinary women.

Arachnoiditis support Group is a self help group supporting people suffering with chronic pain.

We can help you understand and hopefully help you cope. The group is organised by people who suffer with chronic pain, so we know the problems, the suffering and the treatments.

What are the causes?
Traumas, spinal surgery, disc and spine problems, Epidural injections, interspinal chemotherapy drugs, infections such as meningitis.

There are no specific set of signs or symptoms so definite diagnosis is usually through a MRI scan.

Unfortunately treatment is only available for the symptoms, by way of complimentary therapies and good quality pain management.

Chronic back pain is no joke, but together, maybe, we can help you smile! If you would like more information on the Arachnoiditis Support Group, or would like to volunteer to help, please email or contact: Vera on 0151 283 0293 or Kim on 0151 291 1561.

There was a Relaxation Day at West Everton and Breckfield Family Centre. The day was funded by Connexions and was attended by young parents from across the city including Speke. The day consisted of beauty treatments, relaxation, swimming, arts and crafts and a lovely lunch.

Also present to entertain everyone was "Smear Fear" the play guaranteed to have the audience in stitches as usual, raising awarness of the myths around having a smear test.

At the end of the day, all the girls went away with goodie bags. All who attended had a great time - for some, it was the chance to meet other parents and for others, it was a chance to meet up with old school friends whom they had not seen since leaving school.

The idea for a Service Open Day was brought to the fore by the project staff at the beginning of the year as a way of promoting the work of the project in the Speke Garston area. It was agreed that we would try to include as many statutory and voluntary agencies as possible, but our emphasis was to inform the local community of our existence and work.

Groups that attended on the day included:

The programme included an introduction to the day's activities by Mary Edmunds and Beryl Yeomans gave a brief overview of the projects developments and future plans.

Speakers included Racheal Harrison from the Primary Care Trust, who gave a 15 minute talk in health in the community and Lynne Packer from Holistic Therapies who talked about holistic therapies and how people are turning to alternative therapies to help the healing process.

Lynne also facilitated a Rieki healing circle with members of the community and the feed back was very positive.

We were entertained by Carol Hall who demonstrated the art of Belly Dancing which brought a fun and fitness element to the day, and the event was brought to an end by Parklands High School (years 8 & 12), with a drama production covering the effects of domestic violence on children.

All in all the day went extremely well. The turn out of both the community, statutory and voluntary agencies was better than anticipated considering the weather (which was awful). The projects and organisations provided local people with various literature and information on the wide range of services currently available within their own community, and the domestic violence Project established some very good contacts both locally and city wide.

Six parents attended a meeting over lunch at Chi-Nar Gardens. Parents were given information on becoming board members or becoming part of the ParentNet, which is where parents will meet monthly and come up with ideas or any other topics they would like to discuss or see happening in Speke for families.

We hope to encourage other parents and carers with young children to become more actively involved in the programme with the aim to be parent-led eventually.

Training is available to any one interested and you can speak to Mo, Paula or Ann-Marie for more information on 0151-486 9719

The Surestart Speke team were at St Aidan's annual Spring Fling on 5th April where there was a competition held for "Best Easter Egg Design" which was won by Kristain age 22 months.

The children were entertained by circus skills and a magic show, and the local majorettes performed one of their latest routines. A fun day was had by all who attended.



There are Top Tots sessions every week in which the children and parents participate in physical activities.

Last week it was Easter cake making and the parents had as much fun as the children.

We will be back at the group after the Easter break so come along, have some fun and meet other parents.


Big Toy Day There was another successful Big Toy day at St Aidans Church Hall, attended by a total of 22 children and their parents and carers.

Smart Nursery were also in attendance, as were the creche from Speke Young Persons Opportunity Programme.

The children had a great time on the big toy equipment, and dressing up as their favourite characters such as Buzz Light Years, Snow White, Bob the Builder and many more.

Big Toy Sessions are held once a month. For more information contact Irene on 0151-486 9719.


This month's trip to Burton Manor was a lovely Valentine's Day treat for the 10 mums who attended. They were all very impressed with the wonderful old stately manor especially the beautiful gardens surrounding the college. Lucy-Anne was there to give great tips on how to relax, giving her usual lesson on Indian Head massage which left the mums that relaxed they were nearly all a sleep by the end.

Mums all received Parent Packs from the Quiet Place, with a relaxation CD and a booklet with great tips on early years and alternative Holistic Therapies.

This is what Julie mum of 2 boys had to say: "I wish we had more time here. It's been a lovely day, I feel so chilled and don't want to go home. Lucy-Anne was great, she made us feel very at home and relaxed. I find it very hard to relax. I'm always on the go with a very inquisitve 3 year old, so today was a real treat for me."

If you are feeling stressed or would just like a change of scenery for the day the last trip for the time being is on 21st March. Anybody interested can book a place by contacting Ann-Marie on 486 9719.

On 5th Feb 2003 we started our new legal advice clinic. Renu Rai will be available for appointments by booking with Maria on 0151-486 9719. Appointments are between 10am and 3pm and initially we will be running monthly sessions.

Renu Rai is based at Morecroft's Woolton office. Morecroft Urquhart have 3 offices in Merseyside, offering one of the largest and most experienced team of family lawyers in the region.

Since qualifying as a Solicitor in 2000, Renu has worked exclusively in family law and is a member of the Solicitors Family Law Association. Renu specialises in all aspects of family law including matrimonial matters, children matters and domestic violence.

Renu is involved with Speke Citizens Advice Bureau, manning their Solicitors advice clinic and also with Speke Garston Domestic Violence Unit. Prior to working at Morecroft Urquhart, she was also involved with the Flintshire Home Start project.

Chinese New Year Play and Stay groups really got into the spirit of Chinese New Year, the children and parents made their very own Fiery Dragon, which was very bright and colourful, it was a shame it didn't breathe fire as we prepared for our visit to china town on a cold snowy day as we could of done with the warmth. We weren't to be put off and we wrapped up warm against the blizzardy conditions with the promise of a great trip and prospect of some tasty food!!

We arrived in China Town, and everyone took in the great arch and tried to spot Dragons, we then went shopping in the supermarket, all the children had items to find and really enjoyed exploring some of the more usual produce. We then headed to the restaurant were we all tucked into a very filling banquet, all the group agreed that the food was fantastic and the children loved trying different types of food particularly the ribs, which they all needed a bath after eating as the sauce was everywhere.

Then it was back to bus with our full tummies and doggy bags, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and are looking forward to cooking all the lovely food that we brought.

Sure Start linked in to Speke Library's "Celebration of Learning" week, which was held on 27th Jan-31st Jan, the library had lots of activities for all the family throughout the week and Sure Start was involved by organising activities for the 0-4yr olds on the Tuesday.

The library had never seen such activity and noise with over 100 children and their parents attending, including all the school nurseries, Parklands Children and Family centre and Parklands Nusery all despite the torrential rain.

Everyone enjoyed the activities including storytelling, a play area, exercise and parachute games with Wavy Davey, and fun funky puppet making where children made their own hand puppets, some styled on animals and others on people that they know, which judging by the puppets made there are some wacky colourful people out there!!!

The day was a great success with children, taking part in the activities and parents enjoying refreshments provided by Starbucks!!

The latest Relaxation Day at the David LLoyd Centre on 24 January went down a treat. Expectant mums enjoyed putting their feet up for the day, and received Indian Head massage, reflexology and hand massage whilst being generally pampered by staff from the Quiet Place and two beauticians.

There were 2 midwives on hand to answer any concerns the mums were having and Sure Start's new midwife Tricia Lynch was able to get more aquainted with the mums. Tricia will be taking over the Parents2B drop in currently being run by Ann-Marie.

Also present was Tracy Cave from the CAB giving out benefits advice. Lynnie Williams from the JET was there to talk to the mums about the advice they can offer to parents if they would like to return to work or take up training.

Before lunch the mums then went for a dip in the pool where they had a taster of aqua-natal, which had good reviews. As you can see pictured, the mums all tucked into a fantastic buffet - just the thing as they had all worked up quite an appetite after the aqua-natal.

The highlight of the day had to be the play by All Talk Productions "Smear Fear". Everyone in the room laughed through the majority of it. However, it addressed myths and fears that women have about having a smear test. There was also a question and answer session afterwards. The day was ended with Lucy-Ann doing her wonderful relaxation session, so a good day was had by all.

Amongst the mums who attended was Vicky, mother to Ashley aged 13 months and currently having her second baby. She commented: "The play was brilliant I've never laughed so much, I came back so relaxed I had no energy for anything else".

Also present was Sarah, who is expecting her first child in June and when asked what she thought of the day at David Lloyd, she said: "It was a great day. The reflexology was excellent and I loved having a manicure. The aqua-natal was so relaxing and soothing that I couldn't even feel my bump. The play was so funny but realistic. According to my partner my calmness lasted 24 hours. I'm looking forward to doing more of the aqua-natal when the sports centre opens."

The new arrival for the Sure Start Team is Conagh Michael born on 21st Nov 2002 and weighing in at 5lb 10oz.

Congratulations to Kelly (Sure Start Administrator) and big brother Shaun. Conagh is home safe and well after a short spell in hospital. We would like to wish them all health and happiness for the future.

Don't forget to check out the Baby Gallery to see the latest arrivals and don't forget to send in photos and details of your baby to include in our hall of fame.