A much-needed children’s centre in south Abingdon has taken a step closer to opening but is desperate for “any offers” of help from the community.
AbingdonCarousel was formally registered as a charity earlier this month and will open in the former South Abingdon Children’s Centre in Caldecott Chase.
Abingdon South councillor Neil Fawcett helped set up the original centre 18 years ago and has also been heavily involved in opening AbingdonCarousel.
He said: “We are near to the point that we can start advertising an opening date and we’re looking for people to help.
“In some cases it will be helping with activities with kids, in other cases it would be helping with the building and upkeep, or collecting materials for the kids, there’s quite a range.
“We’d welcome any offers.”
More than 40 children’s centres across the county were hit by council budget cutbacks in 2016, with many forced to close, including the South Abingdon Children’s Centre.
AbingdonCarousel was set up by volunteers from the surrounding area who wanted to get the service back up and running in the former children’s centre.
Cllr Fawcett added: “We got grants agreed about a year ago from the county council’s transition fund of around £10,000 a year, and £30,000 a year from Abingdon Town Council.
“It’s fair to say a lot of parents in south Abingdon are looking forward to it re-opening.
“There’s certainly a lot of interest because the centre is right next door to Caldecott School.
“A lot of parents walk past the building every day, and there’s a lot of chatter about what’s happening.”
Abingdon North councillor Emily Smith – whose professional background involves supporting young people in early intervention services – welcomed the new facility.
She said: “It’s a shame that they were in the situation where the council run children’s centres had to close, but it’s really great that this group have come forward to try and run the centre.
“I know that the plan is for it to serve the whole of Abingdon, so I’m hoping that people from all of Abingdon will use it as well.
“Having Carousel is going to be a real benefit as they can work alongside county run services to provide more targeted support, but the universal provision is so important in terms of identifying issues.”
AbingdonCarousel is aiming to be open for the start of the summer term, in around four weeks time.