Oldham’s first Family Hub delivered smiles with a Halloween stay and play session, as parents told of the support they’ve received from the new service.
Beever Family Hub in St Mary’s opened its doors in July. The brand-new space provides a one-stop shop for health services and support for parents and children of all ages.
It acts as a lifeline for many, providing free support from pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 19, and 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Users got into the Halloween spirit last Monday morning with Oldham’s mini residents dressing up in costume.
Babies and toddlers dressed up as cute pumpkins and spooky skeletons as they got stuck into sensory activities including making ghostly handprints and playing with piles of scary spaghetti.
Proud mums and dads joined in the fun as their children played at the former Beever Children’s Centre.
Angela started attending with her eight-month-old daughter Kianna, who was born eight weeks premature, after suffering with her mental health during pregnancy.
“We nearly lost her,” the mum-of-three said about her daughter. “She was born by emergency caesarean and she only weighed 3lbs 13ozs..
“I was on a mum and baby unit for five months,” she explained. “I suffered with anxiety and it helped me by coming here and it gets her out to interact with other children.”
Courtney, who brought her 11-month-old daughter Maeve dressed in coordinating mother and daughter pumpkin outfits, said: “It’s a one-stop place to go as a family. I have brought all three of my children here from when it was the children’s centre.”
Kaisha started attending the hub when she was pregnant with her son Kaison-Ray, who is now 13 months old, and she and her boy are thriving.
“We come to sessions on Wednesdays, and it gets me out of the house to mix with other mums,” Kaisha praised.
“My midwife was based here, so I’ve been coming since I was pregnant.
“I have met friends here and he interacts with the other children. I can see a difference in him. He has seen other kids crawling and it has encouraged him.
“At 21 I’m a young mum but everyone has been so welcoming and supportive, and I’m getting out of the house for the day. Everyone talks to each other.”
Hollie said about her two-year-old son Haris: “He gets a lot out of coming to the family hub. He enjoys messy play and gets to interact with the other children.”
And Roma, whose four-month-old son Isaac has been attending since he was just two months old, said: “He loves it. He loves the interaction with other children.
“And it’s not just good for the children, it’s for the adults as well.”
Taf and his wife Shaheda moved to Oldham from London with their son Noah, 15 months, in March.
“We’ve been to different sites but this is the best for me,” he said: “It’s neat and tidy and bright.
“He can socialise with others and he’s encouraged in his independence.”
In addition to the new Beever Family Hub, there will be five additional Family Hub buildings as part of a £3.6m family hubs programme for Oldham.
There will also be buildings at Stanley Road, Spring Meadows, Medlock Vale, Oldham Library and a Shaw Family Hub. They bring maternity, health visitors, speech and language support, early learning opportunities, community support groups, and activities under one roof.
There is also a Digital Family Hub, with all the information that parents and families need, when they need it, 24/7.
Councillor Shaid Musthaq, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "It’s great to see people are using the hub.
"We’re committed to supporting families and I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet tried out the service to go and see for themselves how they can get involved and how it can benefit them. It is their hub to use, and a space where they can come and talk to other parents. It helps parents to feel less isolated."