This page serves to document all our archived news articles for 2007. Please note all content and images are ©Five Children and Families Trust.

What a great afternoon! The Sure Start Nursery Carol Concert had an audience of over 50 people including parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The children performed a mixture of traditional carols and Christmas pop songs which certainly got us in the festive spirit.

Due to the number of people requesting to come to the concert this year we moved the venue to the Speke Baptist Church so we could accommodate eveybody.

Although very young, the children were very impressive - we certainly have some budding stars amongst our group! Three children in particular, Jacob, Tilly and Lillie Mae, stole the show.

A big thank you must go to all the staff, in particular Jenny and Keelie, who over several weeks worked tirelessly rehearsing songs and actions with the children in preparation for the big day. We would also like to thank Liz Hall who musically directs us every year (which isn't an easy job).

Finally the staff and children would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

On Saturday 15th Dec 2007 we held our annual Christmas grotto. This year 120 children visited Santa in our traditional themed grotto, complete with Santa's elves. After the visit, each child was given the chance to visit our new kids club and make a special gift for the parents or magical reindeer dust. This allowed the parents to sit, relax and enjoy a well earned cuppa tea and the prepared other festive treats on offer from the cafe.

Parent expressed their thanks and said:

"This is the nicest grotto we've been to this year - it's great that the kids got to do an activity as well. We didn't feel like we were herded in and out "

"This grotto is great value for money and costs half the price of some others and the pictures are lovely."

Some of our visitors were as young as four weeks old and parents were keen to get that special photograph to keep in the family album. Jamal Dermott, our Parent Mentor Manager, helped out on the day as Father Christmas and said he felt quite honoured that he would now be part of those families' memories and albums forever.

Special thanks to all the staff and volunteers who helped make it possible, especially Lois, Kate and Rebecca for making the grotto look so wonderful.

On 2nd Jan 2008 we will be extending our childcare provision to provide care for 40 additional children aged 4-14 year old children in our school age childcare centre.

We have a fantastic centre that has been purpose built to fully meet all Ofsted standards. It is bright, spacious and well equipped to meet your children's needs.

For the lucky children joining us in January, Lisa and the childcare team will be working with them to choose equipment and toys that they want.

The child care service will be fully integrated with all other services provided at the children centre, and we view this extended service as an extremely positive development for our childcare provision overall.

We will be providing pick up and drop off to all schools in Speke and through our existing networks we will develop close links with the schools so that where possible we can expand on the curriculum provided.

It is our intention to work with your children to ensure that through their play experiences within our centre, we can enhance their achievement of the 5 outcomes for children:

Sure Start Speke has already been awarded outstanding by Ofsted for our early year's provision and our work on "Enjoying and Achieving" we intend to achieve the same for our Kids Club provision.

Our activities programme will be designed to encourage and motivate the children in our care to ensure they are safe, stimulated and having a great time. We aim to offer activities that are child centered and encourage children to have a say in what's on offer.

As the centre becomes more established and we are clear what the children want we plan to involve them with Trudy our website designer to have their own site. We want this to be interactive for the children and parents.

For more information, contact our Education with Care Leader Lisa Groves on 486 9719.

The Nursery children have been learning and celebrating Divali, a Hindu festival of light, and listened to the story of Rami and Sita. Exiled to the forest Sita is kidnapped by the demon king Ravana and taken to his palace on the island of Lanka. Rama helped by the monkey god Hanuman rescues Sita and they return home to be crowned King and Queen.

Pre school children have made a Divali light out of clay and toddlers have painted Mendhi patterns on their hands. To end the divali celebrations Diane from the Café cooked us a wonderful lunch and we even tried some exotic fruits.

Sure Start Pre School 'got on their bikes' today to help raise money for "Brake" the road safety charity. Any money that is raised helps towards road safety awareness and counselling for bereaved families.

Brake is a national road safety charity with two aims:

Pre school has been busy all week learning new road safety songs, what road signs mean and how to cross the road safely.

With the help of Community Support Officers, Leah and Michael, the children demonstrated their safe bike riding skills, including how to use a zebra crossing out in the community.

A big thank you to Keelie for all her hard work this week and for the children who are now much more aware of road hazards and the need to take extra special care when they are outside, either walking or riding their bikes.

For more information including up to date statistics on the number of road injuries, current legislation, safety tips and fun games to teach your child road safety awareness, visit Brake the Road Safety Charity.

To celebrate Parents Week a series of days were held in the centre to promote local services available to parents and children. The week focused on the five outcomes for children, with each day having it's own specific focus.

The week was made possible by the assistance of many of our partner agencies who attended to give advice or provided families with information and guidance. The week attracted over 100 parents many of whom said they'd found it useful, enjoyed the taster sample session or were grateful for the free stuff made available.

Water Rhymes is a weekly course designed to help you discover the joys and benefits of introducing your baby to water in a fun, yet structured way and learn key water confidence skills, using word association, games and exercises.

Where babies are concerned it is important to remember that they have no inherent fear of the water - after all they were surrounded by it for several months! Not only that, they also have a natural and instinctual ability to hold their breath when submerged. This course won't make your baby a swimmer but aims to build upon this ability by teaching babies not to panic if they should fall into water.

Most people agree that getting your baby used to water and starting baby swimming early on is one of the best starts you can give your baby. Whilst there are varying opinions about exactly when to start, babies are welcome at our Water Rhymes course from as early as a few months old.

By the end of this course your baby should have adapted to their surroundings and understand key word associations. Many of the parents that have attended previous classes have gone on to join structured swimming lessons for themselves and their babies.

Swimming with your baby builds confidence, trust and communication skills. Your baby will experience the positive health benefits of swimming such as improved stamina and breathing.

To reserve a place call Mandy on 0151 486 9719

Course Details: Water Rhymes
Venue: Speke Sports Centre
Duration: Six weeks
Start Date: Tuesday, 2nd October
Time: 10.00-11.00
Cost: £18.00

Take a peek at our 'Water Rhymes' picture gallery by clicking here, and mums, if you would like a copy of any of the photographs ask Mandy and she'll be happy to email them to you - simply quote the picture number.

On Friday 28th September we held the launch of our "Can Cook Will Cook" book in the City Learning Centre at Parklands.

The support that we received from both the community of Speke and partner organisations exceeded our expectations. We catered for 100 people and more than 150 of you showed up to celebrate the achievements of 22 local residents, who have taken part in a cookery skills course, and now feature in a commercial standard cookery book.

Our thanks go to Karl Smith, non-executive director for Liverpool PCT, who endorsed the project and pledged his support for the future. Maria Eagle also attended the event and stated that "Sure Start Speke is the best Sure Start in the country".

Through this community event we were able to promote more relevant ways to focus on healthier eating habits in our community, in keeping with the Government and Liverpool City Council drive to instil the benefits of choosing healthier foods to prolong our health and improve our overall wellbeing.

It was also an opportunity for us to launch our brand new website and consider the wider context of health and wellbeing, that is the remit of Sure Start Speke, and to give members of the community and our partners the opportunity to see for themselves some of the many innovative approaches we have developed in terms of working with children and families.

We are attempting to establish commitment and routine in families through the development of cookery skills, by wanting to cook and to share the cooking experience it becomes an exciting part of your day - everyday.

Why not buy a book, enjoy working through it, preparing simple recipes, experimenting with food and sharing your cooking experience with your family and friends. Remember sharing healthier meals leads to sharing in a rich communication; it is what we are about, getting families back around the table to promote both physical and social and emotional wellbeing in children.

One of the most significant things about the day for us is that Liverpool PCT has indicated that they are considering including the "Can Cook Will Cook" model in their Taste For Health Programme. That is great news for us given our drive to move away from grant funding and look for opportunities to contract directly with our PCT.

In the meantime you can support us by:

We have just recently involved all the Parent Mentors from our South Liverpool Parent Mentor Project in a massive registration campaign. We did this to make sure that we had all the correct information on children and families in line with the information we need as a children centre.

This information helps us to build up a picture of the area, and allows us to keep a record of who uses the different services in the centre. Some of the statistical data is fed back to the local authority - this will never include personal information about you but will help us to plan and commission services more effectively.

More importantly we wanted to keep in touch with our families. We managed to register 312 families by simply knocking on doors and spreading the word.

The parent mentor team worked really hard and pounded the streets for about three weeks giving up evenings and weekends to make sure we reached as many children as possible. The experience was really positive for them to be able to chat to parents and they were astounded at the number of cups of tea they were offered on their travels.

We intend to do a number of follow up campaigns about specific issues we are focusing on, activities we are planning throughout the year or to ask parents what they think we should focus on.

Remember - if you have a child aged 5 or under and are not registered with Sure Start Speke you can register online.

A member of staff will call once you have registered and arrange to come and see you with an information pack.

Sure Start Speke was mystery shopped recently by young parents.

The Connexions service had conducted the "mystery shopping" exercise, using young parents and specially trained young people, in a bid to assess whether young parents were getting the expected standards of service from children centres.

Previous to this, a checklist had been produced by young parents that set out their expectations from the service. Lynnie Williams, our Family Involvement and Inclusion Manager, worked with Lynne the receptionist to put together an information folder based on the young parent checklist.

This paid off for us as a centre and the feedback from the mystery shopping exercise was really positive. We were informed by the Teenage Pregnancy Coordinator that we had been highlighted as one of the better children centres in terms of our provision for young parents.

Of course that doesn't mean we got everything right: the main criticism related to the availability of specific leaflets for teenage parents and some practical issues relating to the centre.

Some immediate actions we will be taking include:

This will be used to inform our wider strategy to enable us to meet both the young parent's outcomes as well as those of their children.

National Grandparents Day is observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day, and its purpose is to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to express and show their love for their children's kids, and to help children become aware of the strength, guidance, and information that our senior population can offer.

Grandparent's Day was brought to the UK by Age Concern in 1990. The national event celebrates the important role grandparents play in society and highlights the special relationship they have with their grandchildren.

To celebrate and value the roles grandparents play in the lives of our children we held a special event to show our appreciation. The event was attended by over a hundred people who enjoyed a waitress style tea room atmosphere with music and dancing.

The children who attended enjoyed making keepsakes for their special grandparent and all grandparents received a certificate in recognition for their love.

All grandparents left for us a Pearl of wisdom which they hope to pass down to generations of children - we hope to use these later on in a book.

Here's a small sample:

All pearls of wisdom will be displayed in the centre.

Did you Know?
More than one in five parents see the main role of grandparents as acting as advisors or tutors to a child. Grandparents who provide childcare do so for an average of 15.9 hours per week.

You are invited to a Family Health Day to be held at the Millennium Centre, Childwall Valley Road, 18th June from 1pm-4pm.

Take this opportunity to meet the Belle Vale Children's Centre Staff and be introduced to the new South Liverpool Parent Mentors who are are currently working in the area.

There'll be lots to do for all the family, and staff will be on hand to give free advice and infromation on a range of health and family issues.

Included on the day will be:

Once again Sure Start Speke are facilitators of Speke Carnival and with every passing year we try to make it better than the year before. This year we will be hosting "Run Speke" - "The Ben Nowak 3000 mile Challenge".

Ben was a young local man who died serving his country in Iraq. This will be an annual event in his honour and a charity will be set up in Ben's name to help young people living in Speke. All proceeds from the event will be paid to Sure Start Ltd (company number 04241965, charity registration 1112796) into a restricted fund. Half the money raised from the event will go towards funding next years carnival and the other 50%, on receipt of charitable status, to the "Ben Nowak Trust".

Entry price for individuals is £1.00, for families is £2.00, and for teams (corporate organisations) is £25.

We aim to attract 2000 people to run, walk or push prams for 3000 miles collectively.

Sure Start works in partnership with the Liverpool Active City "lets Walk" campaign working together to improve health in our neighbourhood.

The run will start the day followed by the parade, with floats based on the Capital of Culture theme celebrating the "Heritage of Our City" as we reach our 800th Birthday.

There will a family fun day with lots of things for people to see and do including:

The day will start at 11am until 4pm at Parklands, Conleach Road on Saturday 30th June.

For an application form to enter the run call into the Sure Start Speke Family Centre.

Following on from our creative endeavours during 'Family Involvement Week', Jackie Fryer started 'Knit Wits' knitting groups. Jackie suggested knitting premature baby clothes to raise funds to support the Newborn Appeal. However, after discussions with midwives in the centre they told us of a problem facing the Women's Hospital when introducing breast feeding to new mums. Demonstration breasts which the hospital uses to help teach mums the correct techniques in breast feeding and expressing breast milk, are in very short supply and at a cost of £50 each are very expensive to replace.

Sure Start Knit Wits group took up the challenge have been busy knitting and stuffing woolly boobs which they presented to midwife Jennifer Long. In the space of a week, they also managed to knit a bagful of tiny baby clothes which they have also donated to the hospital for the Premature Baby Unit to use. They also plan to set up a stall in the ante-natal clinic area in the centre selling their knitwear to raise additional funds.

If you can knit, and would like to get involved, the Lactation Unit at the Women's Hospital have provided us with the knitting pattern to enable you to produce your very own knitted breasts. If you can't knit, or haven't got the time but would still like to be involved, we would welcome donations of wool to help us contine in our quest. Knitted breasts or donations of wool can be dropped off at reception in the Sure Start Family Centre.

If you would like further information email or phone 0151 486 9719.

Pre- School are putting on their chef's outfits and embarking on a six week healthy eating project with the help of the cafe staff, the children will be following a different activity each week

        Week 1: Fruit & Vegetable cutting and tasting
        Week 2: sandwich making using healthy options
        Week 3: Pizza's
        Week 4: Smoothie making
        Week 5: cookies
        Week 6: chef's surprise

The aim of this project is to encourage children to make choices on the food they eat and to be given information as to the importance of having a good nutrious diet.

Following on from the healthy eating project the children will look at other ways to "be healthy" , this will include Top Tots physical activites, interactive stories and taking a closer look at ways to keep ourselves healthy.

This project enables us to meet government targets within the Every Child Matters Framework.

Sure Start Speke is working in partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for the next 12 weeks. This is not just a project aimed at having fun although I think you can see from the photos that the children and parents who attended certainly did have a lovely time.

The staff were using techniques developed by Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). Kodály was born in Hungary at a time when its language and culture was subservient to German and Austrian tradition. He developed his own musical compositions inspired by Hungarian melody and folklore and works like Háry Janos, Psalmus Hungaricus, and Dances of Galanta have found a home in concert halls all over the world.

Kodály is viewed by many as the greatest music educationalist of the twentieth century and his musical innovations and teaching methods have gained world recognition.

Throughout the 12 weeks the children and parents will be:

Through the use of music we will also impact on the children's achievement in their early learning goals we expect that the sessions will help children to:

Finally, Kodály would argue that "Music should be accessible to everyone", and who are we to argue with a world renowned expert.

One of the outcomes children told us they want is to "enjoy and achieve". These sessions are a great way to help children to achieve whilst having lots of fun and enjoyment, keeping up with our outstanding reputation of promoting learning through fun activities.

If our pilot is successful we hope to roll out a programme of musical activity - for more information please contact Mandy Murphy on 486 9719.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic are also running a First Note session on Wednesday 14th February for 3-5 year olds (cost £4.50) log on to for more information.

Hi everyone
Last year was a period of dramatic change for our organisation as we gained "Children Centre" as well as "Charitable" and "Standalone" status.

We continue to be the only standalone Children Centre in Liverpool and it has been a clear period of review for us, both from the point of view of services and internal systems. Working with partners and independent consultants, knowing that we face a predicted decline in funding, we have been considering how we can continue to best serve the community and where we need to make improvements.

In addition we have also been seeking out new opportunities which we hope will meet some presently unmet need in the community, protect some of our existing services and provide us with a strong base that moves us away from grant dependency.

Last year we saw our midwifery service go from strength to strength and the Women's Hospital Trust has also set up a neonatal screening clinic in our centre, which has proven successful.

Our carnival for 2006 was a great success thanks to a whole host of partners who put in so much time and effort - a real example of ongoing partnership work and community spirit.

In addition my staff team despite reduced numbers pulled together an impressive and vibrant summer programme for children and families, hosted a number of successful open events and replaced our grotto with a series of "Santa Suppers and Breakfasts". This has been in addition to all the regular activities that they planned throughout the year. Once again we hope to build on this for 2007 which is the 800th Birthday of the City of Liverpool.

Our nursery team in particular, worked hard to put together an impressive consultation event on children's play and learning and we have commissioned an artist to create a more child friendly play provision in our courtyard play area. Everyone including the café staff was dragged into the activities, it's no surprise that they achieved "outstanding" for "enjoying and achieving" in their Ofsted.

So this year our drive is all about how we create new, protect what we have and ensure that our centre is one of the best in the country.

We will be working with the Liverpool Primary Care Trust and hope to build up partnerships with other children centres to run a healthy eating project - "Can Cook will Cook".

Our health visiting team will shortly be joined by the school nurse team, further enhancing "joined up" services for children and families living in Speke.

I am also awaiting news on a new 2 year commission to set up a parent mentor programme in the Netherley Valley area, again this will build up our links with other children centres, in particular in the South Liverpool area. I am sure that Netherley Valley families will feel the clear benefits the service will bring as it has here in Speke. Our project here supported over 200 families last year with a range of different needs; in addition local residents achieved 6 level 3 NVQ's in childcare and advice and guidance, a level 1 counselling qualification and numerous stand alone certificates. 80% of the parent mentors, who were initially taken on for a 12 month contract have remained in employment.

The work we do is all about renewal, we are constantly required to change, some of that is because we choose to and some is imposed, but nonetheless change has to happen.

We are also working closely with other voluntary sector partner agencies, in particular STEC to look at how we can make increased improvements to our services, this will enable us to fulfil our aspiration to create an early years training centre that is second to none.

As a team we have consciously chosen to see change as an opportunity for growth and new learning. I have talked about some of our new services and one area we are currently revising and updating is our website.

Please be patient with us whilst we overhaul our site and make improvements that will allow us to communicate more effectively with parents, children and all our stakeholders. I look forward to my next update which will be on a fresh and brand new innovative site.

Susan Roberts