Friday, 15 February 2019

Children’s centre expanding to meet growing demand

Children’s centre expanding to meet growing demand

A CHILDREN’S centre in Benson has expanded to offer more sessions.

Little Acorns, which meets at the youth hall in Oxford Road, has gone from one session a week to four.

A group of mothers, co-ordinated by Helen Spicer, has been running the centre since January 2017 on a voluntary basis and wanted to offer more sessions.

Mrs Spicer, 44, of Westfield Road, whose two-year-old son Lucas attends, said: “As of January this year we have four groups a week — stay and play sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and a session on Thursdays for babies under one.

“It’s for the children and the mums as well. The first year of motherhood can be quite isolating because your partner or husband might be out at work during the day and you spend a lot of time with your child. That can be fine for a few days but it’s good to socialise with others and have adult company as well.”

The centre has received a £15,000 grant from Oxfordshire County Council’s “transition” fund until March next year. Other money is raised by the mothers.

Mark Gray, the village’s representative on the council, also plans to provide money from his councillor priority fund, while Benson Parish Council has agreed to waive the hall hire charges until the end of this financial year. The centre is also being supported by the Co-operative Society’s community funding scheme in which it donates one per cent of what customers spend on its branded products and carrier bags to charities and good causes.

Mrs Spicer said: “There are many more people who have arrived in Benson in the last year and there are 1,000 new homes that have already been built or are in the process.

“It’s nice to have this on your doorstep. When you’re new to an area it is such a good way of getting to know people and making friends.

“I’ve met lots of new mums already and they welcome the fact that we run different days for different groups. It’s more accessible and it brings the community together.”

Councillor Gray said: “It’s important to give the maximum support to mums. Benson is growing tremendously. It’s going to almost double in size and these new houses will have lots of new parents in them, so it is important to support them.

“I wish the centre all the luck in the world. It looks like it’s going to be a success judging by the numbers with 15 to 20 mums and toddlers per session.”

For more information, visit the Benson Little Acorns Facebook page or attend a session. Entry costs £1 per child plus £1 for their parent or carer.

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