Headlines: September 30th, 2008

In the first partnership of its kind a local authority is opening a children’s centre in a church which will also remain open for Sunday services. The collaboration is between Herefordshire Council and local parishioners in the village of Peterchurch.

Work to prepare the building for its new role begins this week using staff from the council’s Learning Disability Team who will remove pews and re-order the rear of the nave. The Vicar, Simon Lockett said the church was a historic building but one that could be adapted to provide a vital service for the local community.”

Ros Hatherill, Herefordshire Council’s early years and extended services manager, said positive partnership working had allowed the authority to find a way of delivering services at the heart of the community. “This innovative way forward for Herefordshire in developing children’s centres offers the Golden Valley community-based services for all families and carers with children from birth to five years of age,” she added.

Local people have been involved in consultations from the inception of the project and all received a letter explaining what was happening. The letter also explained the Church’s thinking in opting for a changed but shared use of the building. Plans for the development were drawn up by a local architect and had to be approved through the normal church planning process.

Mr. Lockett said, “This area is quite deprived of services that people in towns take for granted. This is an opportunity to support the needs of young children and their families and carers and health visitor with parenting classes, baby and toddler groups and clubs to name just a few activities.”