Children's centres to help parents

New children's centres to help parents with youngsters under five will be set up in Warwickshire as part of a £6.5 million scheme.

Services including a creche, children's activities and courses for adults will be run at Sydenham Primary School, Leamington Parents' Centre and Lighthorne Heath Primary School by March 2008.

The centres have been approved by Warwickshire County Council and will be set up using a government grant.

Children's activities have already begun in Lillington and a new centre is being built in Mason Avenue.

Lucy Holmes, 21, has two children and has been using a number of the services for the past year.

She said: "It is somewhere to go where they can play with other children.

"And we get to have five minutes of breathing space without having to leave them somewhere else. If it wasn't here I would have to spend lots of money getting to other services. "

Sam Dixon, 22, has three children under three years of age and enjoys having the facilities close to home.

She said: "It is just nice to have. It gives the children a chance to play and lets us talk to others."

They are both taking part in children's health courses and have also taken part in computer sessions.

Other activities, including stay and play, music and movement and coffee mornings, could also be set up depending on the needs of the area.

Every children's centre will offer advice about benefits, tax credits and employment opportunities and parents will also be able to get ante-natal support.

Along with the 13 children centres, which were started last year as phase one of the scheme, the services could be used by more than 21,000 children.

Izzi Seccombe, the county councillor in charge of children's services, said: "The approval to start phase two of this scheme is excellent news for parents of young children across the county. We are steadily adding to the support that children and their families have. Having support and advice on the doorstep is very important."

A new children's centre is opening in Kingsway and St Patrick's primary schools in Leamington on Tuesday.

A fun day will be held at Kingsway, in Baker Avenue, to celebrate the opening from 2pm to 4pm.

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