Whittington Hospital trust saves Highgate family centre offering mums breastfeeding counselling from closure

A family centre in Highgate that offers breastfeeding support and postnatal care has been saved from closure after it won funding for another year.

The future of Highgate Primary Family Centre in Storey Road, was under threat as it tried to secure funding for its midwifery services for the forthcoming financial year.

Whittington Health, the NHS trust that runs the Whittington Hospital and has funded the centre’s services since April 2013, last week pledged to finance its health visitors, breastfeeding counsellors and postnatal care until April 2015.

William Dean, headteacher of Highgate Primary School, which runs the family centre, said: “It came completely out of the blue.

“The email came through and to be honest, we jumped up and down. It’s because we believe passionately in what we do.

“It certainly is a struggle and has been for the whole four years in the history of the family centre.

“The problem we have is that people don’t understand where we fit. It’s been difficult to establish who is responsible for funding us.

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“We don’t mind who funds us as long as we are funded to a minimum level to help us to keep going.”

In 2011, the centre, then funded by Haringey Council, was threatened with closure just a year after it opened when the local authority restructured how it funded children’s centres.

The centre was saved following a campaign but a year later the council cut its budget from £25,000 to £10,000 a year.

The school decided to close the centre because it could not run health services following the budget cuts, but it was saved once again after the council stepped in to increase funding to £20,000.

In April last year, Whittington Health took over the financing of the centre’s health visitors, midwifery services and breastfeeding support, but until last week the trust could not commit to funding for another year.

Mr Dean said services will still be run on a “shoestring” budget for next year and the centre will have to fundraise to keep going.

“We sincerely hope that a long-term funding solution can be reached for the benefit of all our families,” he said.

“We are absolutely convinced of the value of our services, which provide families with young children with support.”

A quiz was held last night (Wednesday) at the Duke’s Head pub, Highgate High Street, to start the fundraising campaign.

Whittington Health has committed to looking at ways to fund health services at the centre on a long-term basis.

A trust spokesman said: “We believe that the service is very important to the community.”