Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Church to take over children's centre

THE future of the Henley Children’s Centre has been secured after a deal was agreed for the town’s baptist church to run it.

The Rainbow centre was under threat after Oxfordshire County Council voted to withdraw its funding from April 1.

Now town councillors have approved a plan for the church to manage it as part of a “healthy living space” at the d:two centre in Upper Market Place, which the church owns.

The plan offers the premises, governance and expertise alongside youth and community group Nomad, which is also based at the d:two centre.

The alternative was a plan by parents to run it as a “holistic brand” that would be self-funding but had no venue.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “It’s clear the children’s centre provides a very important service. The children are the future of the town and we need to look after their interests.

“We’re fortunate in that we have a good bid from people with a good record in this area. It should be made clear the council fully endorses this.”

The new living space will cost about £36,000 to set up and deliver the services in the first year.

It will be a “flexible” space for children, young people and families offering soft play and keep-fit sessions. Group meetings will be designed around healthy living, food and nutrition and tackling negative eating habits and other addictions.

The centre may also host children’s parties and classes by personal trainers, which would generate income.

The church has pledged to work with parents on an advisory group or governance board.

The children’s centre is currently run by the charity Action for Children, which pays rent and service charges.

The town council may award a one-off grant of £10,000 depending on the result of an application for up to £30,000 from a “transitional” fund set up by the county council.

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