As Barnardo’s prepares to take over the running of 14 children’s centres in Brent, Ms Butler visited another of its services to talk about the challenges facing children and young people in the capital.
High housing costs, overcrowding and cuts to tax credits and other benefits are among the factors that will put increasing pressure on local families, according to the children’s charity, which wants to build strong support networks in London by working with other local organisations.
Lynn Gradwell, director of Barnardo’s in London, said: “The continuous support that the voluntary sector provides can very often stop children from slipping through the net.
“We’re trying to take an approach which is for the community, in the community and by the community.
“In times of hardship, people survive by having a local support system to fall back on. We want to work with other groups to make sure every family can find the support it needs.”
Ms Butler, visiting the Freeman Family Centre run by Barnardo’s in Harlesden on September 1, said local organisations must share resources and work together so they can survive cuts to local services while tackling the issues that face local families.
Ms Butler said: “The great thing about Brent is its communities. People just get along, and we are quite a rich borough in that sense. But people are also really struggling, and many of those who come through my door are facing huge problems with issues like housing and overcrowding. A lot of children are suffering.
“As resources are squeezed and funding is cut, it’s important that we maximise the resources that we have. That will only be possible if everyone is working together.”
Barnardo’s will take over the operation of 14 children’s centres in Brent at the start of October.
Brent Council awarded the contract to Barnardo’s in order to keep its children’s centres open while also making savings.