Families in Lewes will benefit from improved Children’s Centre services thanks to East Sussex County Council investment in the disused part of a community centre.
The county council is investing more than £200,000 on a refurbishment of part of the Malling Community Centre and will use it to provide valuable services for young families.
Work on the building has just got under way and follows a partnership agreed with the owners of the building, Lewes Town Council.
Effectively split into three sections, the Malling Community Centre comprises sports facilities, a community centre and a disused social club. It’s the disused social club part of the building that is being transformed into the town’s new Children’s Centre.
Cllr Nick Bennett, the council’s Lead Member for Learning and School Effectiveness, said: “I am delighted we’ve reached this agreement with Lewes Town Council and I’m really grateful for their support and enthusiasm in bringing this plan to reality. It’s a partnership that will bring real benefits for residents of the town.
“The town council will continue to own the building but we are investing in its refurbishment and, once the work is complete, we’ll have much more space available for activities and services for young parents and their children.”
Cllr Bennett said the county council was also grateful to the YMCA whose building has been used to provide Children’s Centre services since 2009. Some services will continue to be run from that building in Westgate Street, but the main centre will now be in Malling.
He continued: “The Malling centre will mean an improvement. As well as additional space for activities, it’s also closer to one of the largest communities in Lewes and so should be easier for many young families to access.”
Children’s Centres offer all families with children under five a range of services, information and support in their local community.
This support varies according to local needs but most centres offer advice during pregnancy and before birth, home visiting, family drop-ins, parenting support, information about a child’s health needs, training courses for parents to improve life skills or help getting back to work, as well as help finding specialist groups and services. Many also run drop-in groups and activities for parents and their children.
At the Lewes Children’s Centre the services also include parenting courses, creches, parent and toddler group, and adult learning courses.
The refurbishment of the disused part of the Malling Community Centre will create a new self-contained building which will be the new Children’s Centre. It will house two multi-space rooms for activities and training courses and sessions, consultation rooms for advice work including health visitor and midwife appointments, reception area, and a communal social area.
The refurbishment work is now under way and it is hoped will be completed in time for a summer opening.