Advice and Tips

Sure Start Children's Centres

Seven years ago my life literally just stopped

I fell awkwardly out of the car and damaged the nerves in my back. I was in hospital for weeks, could barely move, and well, the rest is a bit of a blur.

Sara El-Shennawy, 32, Orpington, Kent

 

Seven years ago my life literally just stopped. I fell awkwardly out of the car and damaged the nerves in my back. I was in hospital for weeks, could barely move, and well, the rest is a bit of a blur.

 

Sure Start Children’s Centre. provide integrated services for families with children aged under five. There are now more than 3,000 Sure Start Children’s Centres in England and soon there will be 3,500 - one for every community. They offer ch

The pain was unbearable, so when I wasn’t being treated in hospital I spent a lot of time in bed. I comfort ate to make me feel better but I put on lots of weight – I was 26 stone at my heaviest. I was virtually housebound for the next four years.

 

I had my daughter Aisha, then four, to think about, but my health problems made me really depressed.

 

I was determined to pick myself back up, and having my twins Kian and Mya three years ago helped. The children brought me so much happiness, but sometimes I wished for some extra support looking after them. When she was six Aisha was diagnosed with autism, then doctors told us Kian has autism and Mya is currently being tested for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD).

 

Things started to get better for us all two years ago when I was picking Aisha up from school and I heard another mum talking about the Blenheim Sure Start Children’s Centre. It sounded wonderful, and I called the centre as soon as I got home.

 

 The lady I spoke to invited me to the centre for a chat. Everyone I met was lovely and took the time to talk to me about me, my family and how they could help. I was impressed, it was warm, friendly and I felt safe there.

 

It’s a good place for my children to be as it gave them a change of scene and there are lots of fun activities where they can play and learn.

 

I took a parenting course where I learned how to control my feelings and behaviour to help my children. The biggest thing I learned was that a bit of quality time spent with the three of them goes a long way. I’m not as stressed anymore and it helped make us all happier.

 

I’ve also done lots of courses since then, one in nutrition and GCSEs in maths and English.

 

My health is also better than what it was, I still get back pain, but I’ve lost the weight and I’m down to 13 stone and I am feeling much fitter and healthier.  The support of the staff at the children’s centre has made such a difference. I have made friends with other mums and dads and my children are doing much better, they have new friends and are much calmer.

 

 We are a happier family thanks to the Sure Start Children’s Centre and our lives are much better than I ever thought they could be. 

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