Mothers pay the highest price when community spaces and children’s centres are easy targets for cuts
Local and national media have been drawn to the current campaign to keep Oxfordshire’s Children’s Centres open. This battle is one that will sadly be repeated up and down the country as cuts are tactically made among those least able to put up loud and costly protests.
Yes, call me cynical, but I think one of the reasons children’s centres are targetted for cuts is because their patrons find it difficult to protest. Mothers like me, for whom the Children’s centres are a lifeline are more often than not at home, feeding and putting the kids to bed when the Council decides to hold its meetings to ’hear from users’ in the evenings. Mother like me have no childcare, family or friends with whom to leave our children to go and campaign. Mothers like me will prioritise looking after our kids daily needs and are often just too busy, tired, and overwhelmed to fight against short-sighted policies. Mothers who might have children with special needs preventing them from being out and about in marches and protests, but who find in CC an invaluable solace. Mothers who are working the full time job of being mothers and might not have the support needed to find time to write politicans, media sources, or other mothers about this cause.
Children’s centres are also targetted for cuts because they are one of the few places were parents can be with their kids during the day, as mad as it sounds. They are the one place where I dont have to pay a daily fee to enter an area where my kids are safe, estimulated, surrounded by other children and families of diverse ages and backgrounds, and where I can be present to mother them; I can enjoy watching them learn and support them as needed. It is the one place where, without worrying about paying an hourly fee, I can see kind faces, speak with other adults, and receive support and information as a mother. But the goverment does not see this as fruitful. To their accounting it makes more sense to shut children’s centres so mothers like me are further isolated and pushed into pay work, however badly paid it might be, and my children are sent to nurseries, which will employ more staff, however badly pay they might be too. The value I add as a mother by investing in my children’s first years is irrelevant to the government, since they can’t tax it.
It’s past midnight. It has taken me weeks to get this on paper as I have stolen minutes here and there to do it. I daydream of campainging to keep these Centres open but my reality as a mother is that I just can’t. And it makes me furious that the government is cowardly enough to use that in their strategy. So I plead, for those of you who can, speak up! For the mothers who need this centres and just as much for the children who benefit from them. For the future of our society.
by Dr Karem Roitman