Friday, 19 August 2022

Revamped children's centre set to open

A NEW-LOOK children’s centre in Henley will be officially opened tomorrow (Saturday).

Invited guests, children and families will gather at the “healthy living space” inside the d:two centre in Upper Market Place from 10.15am.

Mayor Kellie Hinton and Councillor Zoe Patrick, chairwoman of Oxfordshire County Council, will jointly cut a ribbon before children and families get to enjoy the soft play equipment and various activities free of charge.

The Henley Baptist Church took over the former Rainbow Children’s Centre, which was previously run by the Action for Children charity, in March when the county council’s funding was withdrawn.

It was chosen by the town council to manage the facility, rather than an alternative plan drawn up by parents, at the start of the year, as it offered the premises, governance and expertise alongside youth and community group Nomad, which is also based at d:two.

In February, it was awarded £21,000 in start-up funding from a £1 million transition fund set up by the county council following budget cuts. Henley Town Council also budgeted £10,000 to help support the revamped facility.

The new living space has cost about £36,000 to set up and deliver 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 county council had planned to close all 44 of its children’s centres and replace them with eight new facilities in order to save £8 million.

Now 34 centres across the county have remained open after communities came forward to run them.

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