Focus of new RBWM family hub focus is too narrow, says opposition

A new Family Hub Service has been officially launched in the Royal Borough – but its shift in focus has fetched criticism from an opposition councillor.

A new Family Hub Service has been officially launched in the Royal Borough – but its shift in focus has fetched criticism from an opposition councillor.

The hub aims to work ‘more intensively’ with referred families, employing family coaches, youth and parenting workers, substance mis-use workers and a youth engagement officer.

The Family Hub Service also provides a number of group sessions and projects for young people and parents.

In May, a strategy to transform children’s services were approved by the cabinet, including plans to close several children centres in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Opposition councillors raised concerns about the loss of support across the community and especially those living further out in the suburbs.

The Royal Borough says practitioners will be doing outreach work, meeting families in their homes, in community venues and even outdoor spaces if needed.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

“With our two main hubs in Windsor and Maidenhead, plus five satellite hubs in those towns, we are using our highest footfall facilities more intensively and combining that with responsive and effective outreach work.”

But leader of the opposition, Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) has criticised the ‘more intensive’ focus on vulnerable young people.

He said: “My wife and I learned so much about being parents from the children centres. All that’s going to be lost. Those early years are so important and parents won’t learn the skills they need.

“We are losing a whole tranche of services, for a very narrow focus on parents already identified as having problems.”

He said that services for all parents, like the stay-and-play service or breast-feeding network, allowed the council to identify need by interacting with the whole community.

“We need to help all those parents who might not even know they are struggling. But the borough won’t be able to identify them because they won’t be interacting with people,” he said.

“It’s such a backwards step.”