Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why are we celebrating Sure Start?

This month Greenwich Council is celebrating "National Sure Start Month". This is fourth such celebration and will be marked by a number events across the borough about the achievements of the Sure Start programme. Sounds great doesn't it?

However, besides self-congratulatory celebrations of policy being a little bit Soviet, the evidence suggests that Sure Start might not really be worth celebrating. According to research published in the British Medical Journal by the national Sure Start evaluation team and Birkbeck College, University of London, Sure Start actually harms the children that need it most in deprived areas.

The research conducted comparative analysis of 150 families in Sure Start communities with families in 50 areas of similar deprivation. It found that the most deprived families, such as teengage mothers, lone parents or the unemployed, benefited least from Sure Start. The research found that the primary problem for these groups was that Sure Start was "stressful and intrusive".

Now, as we mentioned the other day, a recent NHS report showed that nearly 70% of the wards in Greenwich are among the "most deprived in England". The report also noted that Greenwich has a serious problem with teenage pregnancy. Arguably, Greenwich's demographic is precisely the groups this research found are being harmed by Sure Start, which beg's the question, why are we celebrating it?


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