St Albans mayor defends charity choices

THE Mayor of St Albans has defended her decision to support Sure Start as one of her chosen charities after concerns were raised about its status as a government supported programme.

Cllr Aislinn Lee announced that she would be supporting Sure Start St Albans and St Albans and Hertsmere Women’s Refuge (SAHWR) when she became Mayor last month.

Sure Start is a government programme which provides services for pre-school children and their families. The centres, including the 10 covering the St Albans area, are funded by central government.

While Cllr Lee “fully accepted” that the core funding for Sure Start came from government, she stressed that there was a serious need for additional supportive work for the most disadvantaged families in St Albans by means of outreach work.

“My intention this year, through the Mayor’s charities, is to give some advantage to those children most in need, to hopefully give them a better start in life within our community,” she said.

“This money is not a replacement, nor even a subsidy to a government grant. It has been made very clear and agreed that any money raised through the Mayor’s Charity will be spent on additional, necessary outreach work for the most disadvantaged children and their families.”

Caroline Swindells, strategy manager (children’s centres and child poverty) at Hertfordshire County Council, explained: “The 10 Sure Start Children’s Centres covering the St Albans area welcome the Mayor’s support and are keen to raise public awareness about the work that they do to support children under five and their families.”