'The centres are like onions – they have so many layers', says one parent who goes to Shaw and Crompton Children’s Centre with her daughter. Over the last year, she’s signed up to several courses, become a fully trained volunteer, made friends and watched her daughter blossom.
Shaw and Crompton is one of five centres in Oldham that The Children’s Society took over in 2009. Already the centres have become the focal points of the communities they serve, and have helped to break down barriers in an ethnically mixed area. Registration rates are as high as 50% – well above the national average.
In June 2010, Shaw and Crompton was runner-up in the Children’s Centre team of the year section at the Children’s Stars Awards 2010. It was praised for its excellent quality of childcare and also commended for its work in providing opportunities for everyone in the community to get involved.
Anne Longfield, Chief Executive of charity 4Children, who organise the awards, says: 'Shaw and Crompton Children’s Centre has achieved something remarkable and fully deserve the recognition.'
Parents are strongly involved in running the centres. They put forward ideas through the parents’ forum and are involved in the centres’ governance through advisory boards. Many now volunteer at the centres, and actively recruit other parents everywhere from schools to shopping malls.
The centres have benefited from almost £20,000 worth of baby clothes provided by The Children’s Society and toys given at Christmas by the cast of Coronation Street. 'Because we’re a charity, others contribute too', says programme manager Shaheen Khawaja. 'We also employ great people – really committed staff who want to make a real difference.'
'I'm very grateful to the crèche for their time with my child - he is much happier to be left, which is a relief for me and his confidence is definitely improved.'
–Parent, Isle of Wight
'Comfortable surroundings, friendly faces, brilliant staff, somewhere to go with pre-school children including messy play sessions when there is nothing else available in the local area.'
'The Children's Society and Bradford Metropolitan District Council have worked in partnership over several years to deliver services to children and families through two Children's Centres in areas of significant disadvantage in the city. The Children's Society has delivered on our expectations and added real value to partnership working in the district. These centres deliver high quality services which meet the needs of local communities.'
–Mark Nicholas, Area Manager East – Localities, Services to Children and Young People, Bradford Metropolitan District Council
'The local children's centre is a lifeline for me. It's a chance to meet other mums – I've met a lot of friends. If I've got a problem with my daughter, the staff are there for me to talk it through. My daughter really loves it too – they do lots of really interesting stuff with the kids.'