I am so excited at the news that the Children’s Centre in South Abingdon is going to open again soon.

A local community group – Abingdon Carousel – is set to restart some services at the South Abingdon Children’s Centre. The group was set up following the decision in 2015 by Conservative county councillors to close the centre in a slash-and-burn approach to children's centres to save money.

The money has come from the town (£30K a year for three years) and county councils (£30K over three years) and they have also had a start-up grant from Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon. Services provided will include stay-and-play, health visitor drop-ins, breastfeeding support, healthy eating cookery sessions as well as Citizens Advice Bureau and Inspiring Minds adult learning. There will also be an after-school club on site.

Since the closure of all the children’s centres in Oxfordshire it has been a race against time to get them up and running again. Many families told me they were a lifeline and the community was devastated.

As Lib Dem spokesperson for education, I have long championed investment in the youngest. When I was elected, it was the very first Westminster Hall debate I led back in July 2017. In it, I highlighted why early interventions are good value for money saying “The Government’s own evidence shows that interventions for one to three-year-olds play a vital role in life chances, especially for the poorest children. The Oxford University ‘children’s centres study’ instigated by the Department for Education reported in 2016 and backed up what countless studies before it had showed: the benefit of interventions such as baby health and parenting support. Not only do they give value for money by improving outcomes for families as a whole; down the line, they help to reduce the chances of bad behaviour or smoking and raise educational attainment. The study further extrapolated that interventions will reduce joblessness and raise incomes for children in the future. What is there not to love?”

The evidence behind many of the support services offered at children’s centres is compelling and I am so delighted that South Abingdon get theirs back, albeit with fewer services than before. But questions remain. What about elsewhere? And what happens after three years? The campaign to get more open and keep them open continues.

A centre manager, Gemma Clack, has been appointed and Carousel is looking for volunteers. If this tickles your fancy or you just want more information, visit abingdoncarousel.org.uk. I wish Gemma and the team the best of luck for the opening (to be announced) and hope the whole community gets behind it.