The new Henley children’s centre, the d:two Family Centre was officially opened on Saturday morning by Henley Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton and Zoe Patrick, Chair of Oxfordshire County Council (OCC).
Henley Baptist Church are running the new centre after they were awarded a start-up grant of £21,900 from OCC and a £10,000 grant from Henley Town Council after the Rainbow Children’s Centre closed in April this year. The OCC grant was from a transitional fund made available after their decision to close 44 centres across the county and replace them with just 8 to save £8m last year.
The new centre includes a garden with outdoor play equipment, sand pit, ride on toys, water play plus lots of toys, activities and new soft play equipment inside. The centre is currently open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and offers come and play sessions, post natal pilates and baby massage sessions.
Henley Baptist Church Pastor, Roger Cole said “Welcome to our re-opening of the d:two Family Centre. It’s not the first time we’ve opened it. In 2008 we had a special opening day and Peppa Pig arrived and rather stole the show! Back in those days when the centre was first opened we ran it on a much bigger budget. Since that time the family centre has been through a number of different changes until here we are today. The family of Henley Baptist Church and d:two has been given a chance on a very much smaller budget to take on the running of the family centre and we have in our hearts care and love for the family. Henley Baptist Church is not a business it’s a family and so we want this family atmosphere to be right at the centre of all that runs here. Thank you to Oxfordshire CC and Henley Town Council for the grants that that you have released to enable us to get going and run this centre. Thank you for everyone who has volunteered and I want to thank Karen (Ashton) who is employed in the family centre and to say what a great job she’s done. I also do want to underline that this place couldn’t be run without the volunteers that give up their time.”
As well as volunteers from the Baptist Church, a team from Invesco Perpetual took a half day volunteering leave to help paint the inside of the family centre in April before it re-opened. Shane Wilson, EMEA RFP Team manager said “It was truly a rewarding team experience and a great outcome for this deserving local charity.”
“It was a pleasure to support a local charity who were so grateful for our time and efforts. We all felt a real sense of achievement at completing the decorating together and have come away from the day much closer as a team. It was fantastic to see everyone getting involved and having fun – I couldn’t recommend organising an Invesco Cares offsite more,” added Amy Henry, RFP Specialist.
Karen said, “Since re-opening I have been really taken aback by the love that people have for this centre. It is really hub for Henley. It brings children and families together and they absolutely adore coming to the centre. A lot of people who I have met have moved into Henley and have nowhere to go and socialise and this offers that kind of service to those parents and they form everlasting friendships. A lot of parents also who I talk to, its their second and/or third child coming along so there is a really history of families belonging here. My remit and what I would like to develop in the centre is a place of welcome and invitation to all families. A friendly, warm environment where the children are very much in charge. They are exploring and making their own mess and the parents are watching and learning from their children. 0-5 years is an absolute crucial time for development of children. It is so important and that’s why these centres first opened. We are pleased to be able to offer not just an hour’s session but an invitation to come for a few hours. We’re looking forward to opening more from September with more offerings including a Dads’ Bacon Butty Breakfast session on Saturday, a baby group 0-10 months with visits from health visitors and antenatal classes.”
The Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton said, “I can remember the first few meetings at the Council where we discussed the closure of the children’s centre and I can remember how emotional it made some of us feel as we know clearly how much this means to the town. I have met some of mine and my daughter’s closest friends here. Its not just the social activities, its all the services that run from here. Everything that is done here is so valuable to this town. Henley Town Council formed a working group. I’d like to thank that working group especially Councillor Jane Smewing for helping at the end to ensure that we made the deadline for the grant. Well done too to Sue Prior from Nomad for working behind the scenes.”
Zoe Patrick, Chair of Oxfordshire CC said, “It’s so delightful to see communities like this coming together to help to preserve what is actually a real family community. I know there is lots of services. I would like to thank all those volunteers without which some of these services couldn’t continue without you. A big thank you from the County Council for continuing the work that has been done and I’m glad that you’ve received the grant that you applied for.”
The opening hours for the centre are:
Monday: 9 am – 12 pm
Wednesday: 9 am – 12 pm, 2 pm – 5 pm
Thursday: 9 am – 12 pm, 2 pm – 5 pm
Summer Opening Hours (from August 2017)
Wednesday: 9 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 9 am – 5 pm
Prices: £4.00 per child, then £2.50 for each additional child
The centre is also available to hire for birthday parties on Friday and Saturday afternoons. To make a booking or for more information contact the Family Centre Manager, Karen Ashton: 01491635733, firstname.lastname@example.org