The London Borough of Hounslow was in a period of statutory consultation around their proposals to redesign services for the under-fives under the Brighter Futures strategy. Through the proposals would mean the grouping of certain services, delivering them via a number of venues across the borough, including libraries, community centres and leisure centres. It also entailed the closure of some of the existing facilities that deliver the services, and the re-categorisation of some to provide solely childcare. Tight budgets meant these steps were necessary, but the council’s aim was to get a sense of how they could best protect local children and families.
How we approached it
We delivered focus groups with service users at each of the children’s centre sites across Hounslow. This meant delivering 39 focus groups (two for each children’s centre in the borough), and three Advisory Board groups. In total 328 parents were spoken to. Due to the controversy around the proposals, emotions often ran high, so it was vital that the dialogue was as open as possible, and that the choices and priorities were clear.
The final report significantly influenced the shape of the proposals, helping reveal issues not thought of before, and bringing out the true strengths and weaknesses of the proposals Hounslow had put before its residents.