Monday, 15 August 2022

Children's centre to continue but with less cash

SIX people are to be made redundant from the Watlington and Chalgrove children’s centre.

It follows Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to withdraw funding of £105,000 a year from the centre from April 1.

A committee of four parents and the headteachers of Watlington and Chalgrove primary schools are trying to save the service with a budget of £30,000 a year.

Steph Van de Pette, who chairs the committee, said all the current staff were to be made redundant on February 28. These included the centre manager, administrator and four playworkers.

The outreach worker, whose work included debt advice, housing and tackling domestic abuse, will move to the Didcot centre under the council’s new model.

Mrs Van de Pette, a Watlington parish councillor, said: “We can’t do the outreach work anymore because we can’t afford the cost of the outreach worker. We’ll be signposting but we won’t have that support for the really vulnerable anymore.”

It is hoped to recruit staff to continue the sessions under the new model. The roles are a part-time centre co-ordinator, a senior play worker and two playworkers.

The group also needs more people to join the committee, particularly if they have experience of children’s centres, early years education or involvement in charities.

The committee is in the process of registering the centre as a charitable incorporated organisation, making it easier to apply for funding and tax breaks.

Watlington and Chalgrove parish councils have agreed grants totalling £14,500 and an application for £30,000 has been made to the county council’s £1 million “transition” fund.

The committee is asking other parish councils and organisations to consider making contributions.

Mrs Van de Pette, who had her son in March, said: “I’m really positive about how much the community has come together to make it happen. Obviously it’s sad that the county has cut the service but I think we have got a good opportunity to provide the service that the community wants.”

The council had planned to close all 44 of its children’s centres and replace them with eight new facilities in a bid to save £8million but members voted to keep 18 centres open.

If you can help, call Mrs Van de Pette on 07970 916188 or email management@

To make a donation, visit www.chalgrovewatlingtoncc.

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