Children's centres are for everyone who needs them - that includes grandparents too

Posted by / Wednesday 09 August 2017 / Families

Many grandparents step in to look after grandchildren while the parents go to work. Our children’s centres provide activities and support for anyone who needs them, including grandparents.

Shirley Cruickshank is a grandparent and she got to know a lot of other grandparents through attending one of the support groups for parents at her local children’s centre. She decided to start up a group especially for grandparents to bring their children along to. 

I look after my grandchildren 3 days a week so their parents are able to go to work. The eldest grandson is at school, he’s 5 and a half and our granddaughter will be starting morning nursery in September. I started going to a parents group at the beginning which is a lovely group.


We all appreciate the support out there for new parents and parents who have moved into the area, but grandparents are a different group altogether and there didn’t seem to be any facilities for us when we were looking after the little ones.

So the grandparents group was something we suggested and Rachel and Julie, staff from Barleyfields, let us trial it out. It’s been really really popular and so many grandparents have been attending. It’s a really friendly group and everyone is so lovely. The comments people make are wonderful to hear like: "we look forward coming to it every week", "it’s the best group we go to".

The difference it makes to the little ones

You do see a difference in the children when they start coming to the centre. When grandparents have got little ones, it’s hard to find somewhere to go and somewhere they can meet other little ones rather than having to play on their own. You listen to a lot of the children and they’ve very quiet when they first come and hardly say anything but after a while their speech develops. They get used to playing with other children and it’s nice because they are with little ones their age.

"After a while their speech develops. They get used to playing with other children and it’s nice because they are with little ones their age."

Shirley Cruickshank, Grandparents who attends one of our children's centres

You can really see the difference when it comes to them going to nursery. They’re all talking and they all learn how to play together. They get on so well, there’s no fighting, no issues, no problems, they just all play together. I’m taking my youngest grandchild to Nearly Nursery sessions at the moment which gets her ready for nursery. We’re actually using the centre 3 times a week, you can see it’s not just a place for just one thing.


What makes Barleyfields children’s centre special

Rachel and Julie, two of the staff members there, can’t do enough for you and that makes a big difference.


It’s not just a job to them, it’s a passion. Anyone can go off and do a job but it’s the way you approach it, and how you are with other people. They just have this natural ability to communicate with the little ones and adults, it really is lovely. Honestly they can’t do enough for you. They really do go that extra mile and they make it look easy but they work so hard there. I’m full of praise for them both.

Anything I can do to give back after what they’ve given me over the years, I will.

What would happen without the children’s centre?

I think the children would be very isolated without the centre. Children need company and it’s nice to look after them but they also need that stimulation and they need other children there and these centres do provide it.



It’s alright going to the park but it’s not the same thing and going to these children’s centres there is so many activities, crafts, toys, indoor play, outdoor play, story time. There’s everything, so much for them to do.

The lovely thing about the grandparents group is, when it comes time for the little ones to go home, not one of them wants to leave.

The fact the grandparents keep coming back every week, just proves how much it means to us as well. For some of them it’s the highlight of the week. When you’re looking after little ones, there aren’t many places you can go and talk to other grandparents. Barleyfields is a wonderful place and really is a credit to Action for Children.

To find out if you have a children's centre in your area you can use our postcode look up below. You can also check the Family and Childcare Trust website, to see what other family services there are in your area. 

If you have children and often go to a children's centre and want to get in touch about how your local centre has made a difference to your life, then we would love to hear from you

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