In just a year Butterflies Children’s Centre has grown immensely and is desperate for more space to provide services and facilities for North Swindon families.
Butterflies offers a one-stop shop providing advice, family support, learning and play activities for parents and carers with children aged 5 and under across the nine thousand homes in Abbey Meads and Groundwell, St Andrews Ridge, Ash Brake, Bridlewood, Redhouse, Oakhurst, Taw Hill, Haydon End.
The centre moved into purpose built rooms at Abbey Meads Community Primary school in the spring, having first established itself in a temporary building with two large meeting rooms, next to Catherine Wayte Primary School, at the other end of Elstree Way in Abbey Meads. A weekly stay and play group, baby massage and groups for babies up to 1 year old also takes place in the community rooms at Oakhurst Primary School.
Centre Manager Tanya Parkinson, said, "the high density of housing and the baby boom in North Swindon means we have a very large number of families within our area. Physical meeting places in the area are few in number and our challenge is to find enough space within the different neighbourhoods to run a variety of groups and drop-ins. We’re desperate to start activities in Redhouse.”
Apart from drop-in stay and play activities, Butterflies has become a base for baby health and midwife clinics. A young mums group, Swindon Twins or More, a dads group, and a Mandarin Mums group have also established themselves there. Butterflies also offers stress management and parenting skills courses, offers advice with CV building, skills matching and training opportunities, linked with Job Centre Plus.
The Centre have Family Support Workers and a Parent Support Advisor based at the Centre, who work on an individual basis with families facing a variety of challenges ranging from having children with challenging behaviour, those experiencing domestic violence, post natal depression or low mental health or other specific difficulties within the family
At an opening fete launched by Swindon children’s author Neil Griffiths on 28 October, Abbey Meads primary headteacher Bob Buckley said, "it is a pleasure to have the Butterflies Children’s Centre at our school. Tanya is an outstanding leader of an excellent team. Considering that they are covering a huge area, with a large number of families, the team have done an amazing job in a short space of time.
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson added, "Butterflies have done exceptional work to set up so many groups and provide individual support to parents in only a year. There is a really positive atmosphere about Butterflies."
Coun David Renard, Swindon Council cabinet member for children’s services agreed. "The northern sector is a challenge as it may surprise people that there are a significant number of vulnerable families here. Butterflies are doing a tremendous job to provide help and guidance and I realise that the centre is oversubscribed. We’re looking closely at what we can do to provide more space to organise activities."
For details call Butterflies on 722984. The activity timetable is displayed in local schools, pre-schools and North Swindon Library, and also at: www.abbeymeads.swindon.sch.uk
Neil Griffiths at Corner to Learn