A DOZEN specialist centres that will bring together a raft of services for children and their families are opening across Lancashire this week.

Lancashire County Council says its network of 'family hubs' have been designed as one-stop-shops to provide support for young people and their parents or carers at every stage of maternity, childhood and adolescence.

The main aim of the facilities – one for each Lancashire district – is that those seeking help can find it quickly and from the most appropriate source.

Whether it is baby feeding advice, counselling for families or support for youngsters with special educational needs, the aim is to combine accessibility and simplicity – and make the hubs the first place families turn when in need.

Katherine Ashworth, county service head, said: “I think it’s about improving…connections [and] building on the relationships that we have with families from the very early days – and hopefully that carries them through the life of their family as [their] children grow and needs change.

“They’ll become familiar with a place they know that they can go…and feel comfortable in accessing.  [It will mean they can] get the right support they need…at the right time.”

Key partners include the NHS and health visitors who can also provide a route through to other more tailored help for those that may benefit from it.

Katherine added:  “If you come to a family hub for your antenatal care, about to be a first parent, you build a relationship with that place – and you can access the wider range of services that are offered there as your child develops.

For County Cllr Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, the ability to provide a locally-led system of “wraparound assistance” to families is vital to the development of the hubs.

“They’ll [each] bring their own stamp which will reflect the community [that] they serve. They’re not designed to be the same – it would be wrong if they were,” he said.

County Hall chiefs have dismissed claims the hubs are a u-turn after 20 children and family wellbeing centres were axed in 2019, amid claims services could be delivered in people's own homes.

The centres for East Lancs include Brierfield Family Hub in Tunstill Square, The Park Family Hub in Norfolk Grove, Accrington, for Burnley the Tay Street Family Hub, in Ribble Valley there's Clitheroe Children and Family Wellbeing Services in Wesleyan Row, Parson Lane and for Rossendale the Maden Family Hub in Rochdale Road, Bacup.