I WAS delighted last week to hear that the children’s centre in south Abingdon is now definitely going to reopen.

I know how important the centre has been to local families over the two decades it has been open at the current site.

I was out talking to local residents in the area two weeks ago and they were delighted to hear that the centre was reopening soon. I heard from parents for whom the children’s centre had been a major source of support, and from parents who taken literacy and numeracy courses that had helped them get better jobs and support their children’s learning.

The new centre will be known as the Abingdon Carousel Family Centre and is being run by a new local charity, Abingdon Carousel.

The centre will provide a range of services to young families, with the aim of supporting young children and their families, and to provide links to other services.

There will be regular stay-and-play sessions for babies and toddlers. Health visitor sessions will run regularly as well those run by the Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Other services to be delivered at the centre include adult learning, breast-feeding support and healthy eating and cooking sessions.

Additional funding is now being sought to expand services on offer further.

It has taken a lot of perseverance to get the centre reopened since the disastrous decision by Oxfordshire County Council to close the county’s children’s centres.

This was an incredibly short-sighted decision, driven by a panic to implement Government cuts, rather than taking time to reshape the service and work with the community.

Thankfully Lib Dem county councillors did win the argument for there to be a transition fund to help voluntary and community groups get services up and running in local areas, and Abingdon Carousel is to benefit from some of that funding.

A lot of hard work has been put in by local councillors Samantha Bowring and Neil Fawcett and then by the team of volunteer trustees to get the new charity up and running.

I am also very pleased that Abingdon Town Council was eventually persuaded to contribute a sizeable annual grant. Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon and the Doris Field Trust have also given generous support.

The centre is going to rely on the hard work of the trustees and many other volunteers to keep going. I would encourage anyone who thinks they can contribute to get in touch via abingdoncarousel.org.uk

There is going to be an open day on Saturday, September 1, 2pm – 4.30pm, at the centre. Do go along and find out what’s on offer and how you can help.