On Friday 28 March, Dame Tessa Jowell MP joined Dr Rupa Huq on a visit to Ealing Central & Acton, stopping first to talk to staff and parents at the award-winning South Acton Children’s Centre.
There she addressed the importance of early years care for children and advice for new parents. She said:
“If you want to know why Surestart is so important to parents and children alike then listen to the mothers as I did when I visited the South Acton Children’s Centre. Mothers who talked of their children learning to play, taking huge strides forward in their language and sociability. These stories are intensely moving. They are the real life experience of exactly the children who inspired me to create Surestart as Public health Minister back in 1998.”
Tessa Jowell was Minister for Public Health, 1997-99 and is widely credited for leading on the creation of Sure Start Children’s Centres, launched nationwide in 1998. Following her success as Olympics Minister, she is standing down at the next general election and is tipped to be running for the Labour nomination for the 2016 London mayoral race.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ealing Central and Acton, Dr Rupa Huq expressed concern for the future of children’s services in London:
“If you look across the border into Hammersmith& Fulham and other Conservative-run Councils you see that children’s centres are being cut and forced to close on an enormous scale. As a mum myself I have seen first-hand that the services these centres provide, for young children and their parents, are absolutely vital and we should do all we can to defend them.”
“In April 2010 there were over 3,600 children’s centres helping families up and down the country. By November 2013 almost 500 had been closed. Before the 2010 General Election, David Cameron said it was a “disgrace” to suggest the Tories would close centres and that is exactly what they’ve done. It is a disgrace.”
Following the visit to the Children’s Centre, Tessa joined Rupa and local council candidates in streets around Walpole Park knocking on doors and talking to residents about their concerns in the area.
Pic B. Tessa Jowell with Labour candidates in Walpole ward (L-R: Dr Rupa Huq, Paul Conlan, Binda Rai, Tessa Jowell, Dr Gareth Shaw)