Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2007) More-than-childcare? Everyday, emotional geographies of a local Sure Start Centre. Paper presented to: First International Conference on Geographies of Children, Youth and Families, Reading, 17-18 September 2007.
Since 1999, the UK Government’s ‘Sure Start’ centres have offered renewed childcare, education and healthcare facilities for the benefit of 0-4-year-olds in the 524 most ‘deprived’ wards in the UK. This paper re-presents findings from interviews undertaken with 150 parents/carers, during an evaluation of one Sure Start centre in Northamptonshire. We suggest that these parents’/carers’ – often deeply affecting – accounts of childbirth, parenthood and experiences of the Sure Start centre problematise many extant academic accounts of childhood and youth, in four senses. First: in evoking the complex entanglements of local social/familial relations and moral geographies which importantly configure motherhood and childhood in this context. Second: in voicing experiences and emotions which, although commonplace, often remain unspeakable in narratives of motherhood and childhood (namely depression, shame, anger, self-doubt and isolation). Third, more broadly: in articulating a range of spatialities, issues and attachments which – being ostensibly banal, everyday, fleeting and ineffable – often go unrecorded in accounts of childcare, education and healthcare. And, fourth: in asserting how such often-overlooked complexities, emotions and everyday spatialities matter, fundamentally and politically