Stowford Children’s Centre offers ‘unique’ opportunity

Stowford Children’s Centre offers ‘seamless service’ to families with children under five

MEET the team who will be operating from the new, purpose-built Sidmouth Children’s Centre, which adjoins Stowford Community Centre.

The Sure Start centre, run through Devon County Council, is headed by Paul Bennett, senior project worker, with Nicky Wheatley, children’s centre support worker.

They are busy equipping the play area at Sidmouth, which will hold two open mornings from 10am to noon next Wednesday, September 21, and the following Wednesday, September 28, for children in reception classes from local schools.

The children have been invited to take part in activities there, including creating art with Sidmouth artist Coco Hodgkinson and helping to create a new garden with the help of Sidmouth Garden Centre.

Health visitor Cathy James, school nurse Anita White, community health worker Wendy Headeach, and team leader, public health nursing services, Lynn Jordan, will be based, on a part time basis, at the centre, as will health advisor Jennifer Moss, speech and language therapist Debbie Bunce and community midwife Debbie Snellgrove.

Counsellor Linda Reed, employed by Action for Children, will work from the centre with Sidmouth families.

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“We have a unique facility in Devon, with two teams working as a seamless service,” said Paul.

“The Children’s Service and Primary Care Trust are coming together. It is a feather in East Devon’s cap and we are very lucky to have that in the community.”

Lynn Jordon said: “We are filling the gaps. We don’t want to duplicate services. It is not just us having groups but other people coming in to use the facility.”

The purpose of the centre is to offer a place where families with children under five can access support activities such as play sessions, advice and links to health visitors and others in the health team, and give parent support.

Parents will be responsible for caring for children while they are there, and there are plenty of natural, holistic wooden toys for children to play with.

“We will facilitate groups if they want to have a session and will provide equipment to parents,” said Paul. “We do a lot of outreach work on parenting issues.”