More cash to reopen children’s centres in Oxfordshire

The ACE Centre in Chipping Norton
The ACE Centre in Chipping Norton

More money is available for community groups to secure start-up funding to reopen children’s centres in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire County Council opened a £1m ‘transition fund’ to help schemes for nought to five-year-olds get off the ground at former children’s centres after they were shut in council cuts.

The final round of applications ended earlier this year, with £232,000 remaining unallocated, but the council’s cabinet agreed to reopen the applications process to enable new groups to come forward with their plans yesterday (Tuesday, September 19).

Cabinet member for communities Cllr Mark Gray said: “We’ve seen many fantastic and innovative schemes coming forward as part of this initiative, and the response from local communities has been superb.

“In many cases what parents are seeing when they come into these centres is little different from when they were fully funded by the council, and that’s testament to the commitment and hard work of local people who have made this happen.

“I want to encourage yet more groups to come forward so that every penny of the Transition Fund can go towards open access children’s service provision in Oxfordshire.”

So far, 27 projects have been awarded funding – in addition to open access sessions at the council’s network of eight family centres.

These include Ace Centre Charity in Chipping Norton, Friends of Britannia Road in Banbury and Butterfly Meadows at Bloxham Primary School.

The funding criteria will be broadened to allow groups to apply for grants in locations not previously served by children’s centres, or where a children’s centre has been repurposed – for instance, as a nursery.

Community groups interested in finding out more about the fund and running open access children’s services should email localities@oxfordshire.gov.uk.