The National Children’s Centre was founded in 1974 by Brian Jackson and based in the Bus Depot Offices at Longroyd Bridge. Brian Jackson House became the new base for the National Children’s Centre following Brian’s death in 1983.
Brian Jackson was probably the most influential educationalist of the twentieth century. He was the true founding father of the Open University. His influence spread even further though and many other institutions he has founded have proved to have a positive social effect. Among these he set up the National Children’s Centre in Huddersfield and the National Extension College, as a place where different approaches to finding solutions to social problems could be tried out and from which many other establishments have sprung. He was instrumental in making child-minding into the important work that it is now, and he was the brains behind the prototype for Childline.
Brian had a major influence on the development of ideas and the practice of childcare. His enthusiasm and skills were much admired, but despite the brilliance and promise of his early career, he died tragically young. His name and legacy however, live on through the success and impact of the establishments he built.
On May Day 1977 the Child Care Switchboard was launched nationally. Local radio stations were taken over for hours with parents seeking help with their children. The phone lines were overwhelmed with calls from parents and neighbours about children as young as 7 weeks old. In preparation Brian had had teams of volunteers across the country replacing traditional beer mats with Child Care Switchboard beer mats in pubs and clubs to encourage fathers to participate. The initiative attracted attention from the BBC, BT, and the Department of Health and Social Services. Shirley Williams said in 1977 ‘An experiment in using communications to help the Child at Risk’. The model spread to Australia where Kids careline was set up, and in the UK it moved onto prime time television through Esther Rantzen’s That’s Life show, which led to Childline being set up in 1986. Childline is a dedicated number where children can ring in with their own problems.
Brian Jackson’s first experiment focused on miners in the north accessing further education through the University of the Air. Using the medium of television, free educational courses were broadcast for all in the early hours of the morning. This forerunner of the Open University became the most influential move in education for the masses.
The Centre’s reputation grew and through years of hard work, development, and the introduction of new areas and projects, became the huge success that it is today.
Yorkshire Children’s Centre
After discussions with the board, it was decided to re-name National Children’s Centre to Yorkshire Children’s Centre, helping local communities identify the Centres as belonging to them, and their communities.
Today YCC sit in the heart of Huddersfield’s diverse community. Our vision is a future where children, young people, adults and families achieve their full potential in life – through our practical services and working to influence national policy and delivery of services for children.
Through the work we do, we promote democracy, respect for different beliefs and religions, universal rights for all, quality of opportunity and freedom of speech.