Children’s service start-ups total 39 after latest council grants

Start-up funding has been awarded to four more local groups providing children’s services in Oxfordshire – bringing the total number of ‘open access’ schemes to 39.

Over the last year, community groups from across the county have taken on and developed new sessions for 0 to 5-year-olds – such as ‘stay-and-play’ – at former children’s centres and other locations following the council’s announcement of a £1million Transition Fund.

The council previously ran 44 children’s centres. The tremendous response from local groups together with services being run from the council's children and family centres, mean there will be 47 projects supported by the council delivering open access, universal provision.

Amazing response

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Children’s Services Lucy Butler said: “Much has been said about the ‘closure’ of children’s centres in Oxfordshire, but through the amazing efforts of community groups many of these buildings are very much open and running services for 0-5 year olds.

“This time last year I don’t think many people thought that would happen - but it has, and it’s something for which local people deserve enormous credit. We are continuing to work closely with these open-access projects to help them achieve long-term sustainability and provide a complementary service to the targeted help the council is delivering from our Children and Family Centres.”

The four latest schemes to receive Transition Funding are:

  • Benson Little Acorns - will receive £22,000 over two years to create a children’s centre in the local community, to cater for parents and children ages 0-5. Little Acorns already have a successful toddler group, run by local parents and volunteers, and want to extend their activities.
  • Didcot APUK - will receive £6,100 over two years to continue Didcot Baby Monday (DBM) – an established weekly parent and baby group. The group has evolved with their core activity offering a safe open space for parents and their new baby.
  • St Edburgs Church with Kingsmere (Bicester) - will receive £11,200 over two years to fund family support work in Bicester, including stay and play, with a specific focus on the new Kingsmere Estate.
  • The Comfort Trust, East Oxford – will receive £2,729 over one year to support its existing work in East Oxford. The trust currently runs four baby and toddler groups: Sunflowers, Daisies, First Saturday and Buttercups Music.