Claire, a Loughborough Junction resident, explains the human cost of public sector cuts
I have a wonderful life but I also suffer mild anxiety, fear change and it takes me time to establish friendships. It’s always been that way. Not major but enough to get in the way at times.
Five years ago I was made redundant and started working from home near Loughborough Junction. Having lost the ready-made friendship and banter associated with office life, I joined Carnegie Library on Herne Hill Road and worked there on days it was too quiet at home. I also started raising money for Ruskin Park. And so the beginnings of a new, community-based life were beginning to be forged.
Two and half years ago my life changed again when I became a mother for the first time. After IVF, a frightening birth experience and a daylight burglary only weeks later, my nerves were somewhat frayed and I noticed that I was becoming a bit reclusive.
What pulled me through this period was the comforting, weekly structure of a variety of free public services in the area which didn’t require a second wage and a long, complicated bus journey.
My son and I became regulars at the Milkspot (breastfeeding support clinic) at Jessop’s Children’s Centre on Lowden Road as well as Wriggle and Rhyme Time at Carnegie Library. The instant sense of warmth, inclusion and belonging was priceless. No matter your background, here we were all in it together.
Over the last year the council has systematically withdrawn funding from the most used and most needed services in our small community including the paddling pool in Ruskin Park, toddler singalong at Jessop’s Children’s Centre and today we attended our last ever story time at Carnegie Library, which closes on 31st March.
I could go on and on about the importance of community and social levelling but I fear I wouldn’t stop.
And so I feel the heavy weight of mourning in my tummy. By later today my throat will go tight and I will probably cry properly for the Ruskin Park paddling pool, Carnegie Library and all the wonderful times we had there.
Finally, here’s the hypocritical rub. The government claims to want people taking responsibility for their community by sending people into the streets to pick litter and smarten their neighbourhoods for the Queen’s birthday, while with the other hand they are stealing away the very community hubs which create a place where we can all belong together.
I feel lucky for the time we had but lose sleep over the next wave of new parents and all the children who will be denied the inclusive learning experience we have had.
(Since writing this article I have found out that the council is now potentially withdrawing funding from the Milkspot at Jessop’s Children’s Centre).