New children's centre to open

A NEW children's centre is opening in Felixstowe on Thursday - part of a £1.5 million investment in childcare in the seaside town.

Richard Cornwell

A NEW children's centre is opening in Felixstowe - part of a £1.5 million investment in childcare in the seaside town.

Sea Breeze Children's Centre in Beach Station Road will be a community facility offering high quality information, support and services to families with children.

The centre was funded by a government grant from the Sure Start Unit through Suffolk County Council and the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

It is part of a growing network of children's centres in Suffolk providing integrated childcare with early learning for young children, health services, family support, a base for childminders, and help into employment, including links with Jobcentre Plus and the Library.

The centre has already created jobs for four people.

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Services already on offer at Sea Breeze are Stay and Play sessions and Baby Chimes group.

Along with the Oaks Children's Centre, which opened this summer on the Grange Primary School site, Sea Breeze will offer a childminding network, training facilities, child and family health services, family support and a parental outreach service.

It will also offer support for children and parents with additional needs and work together with Felixstowe Opportunity Group and Portage.

Sea Breeze manager Jenny Clarke-Pearson said: “Children's centres do not have a catchment area and services are available for all families with children under five and are here for the whole community.

“In addition to the family support outreach work the two Felixstowe based children's centres already do, we continue to provide a number of free services and groups to families in various locations across the area.”

County councillor Patricia O'Brien, who will open the centre on November 13, said: “We aim to provide a 'one stop shop' for families, somewhere they can access information on the wide range of services available to them.

“Most people do not realise that many of the services are free, so it's really important for families with children under five, to contact their local children's centre to find out about the activities.”

The centres aim to be places where children can play, socialize, learn and be cared for, while giving parents support.

Most provide childcare, early education, informal health and social support, plus information for further help. Some offer baby massage, cookery courses, exercise classes, adult education courses, credit unions, DVD hire and much more. Most services are free, but there are some charges such as childcare for working parents.