Chair of the County Council, Cllr Zoe Patrick, Opens the Maple Tree Centre for Children and Families.

On Thursday 11th January at 11am the Chair of the County Council, Cllr Zoe Patrick, formally opened the new Maple Tree Centre, in Wheatley, in the presence of local families and other organisations which had helped to fund and support the centre.

Cllr Patrick said "I think it is inspirational to see people working so hard for their community, in particular when you think you are going to lose something as important as a children’s centre which is so valuable to children and families. To see that they are working so hard to bring families and children together is such a wonderful thing. Everybody benefits. I think you can be a flagship for other centres."

Anne Purse, Chair of the Centre Trustees and retired County Councillor for the area responded ‘We are celebrating the fact that the Centre is up and running and full of children. When you think that a year ago we were all very sad and the centre was closing down and now, here we are a year later with two members of staff, nearly 100 families attending and something happening every day of the week and it’s still growing. It’s fantastic. We are developing a Saturday morning programme particularly for dads and working families and plan outreach to other villages. But all this depends on money, so we are hoping for continued support from local parish councils. We have to raise thousands of pounds ourselves and hope to do so with our own fundraising and grants from local authorities, charities and trusts.

Video link: 9fa41239cb2fc167d2a2be3460c4f9f20180111192540/e5e469

The Maple Tree succeeds the County Council-funded Maple Tree Children’s Centre which was closed in February 2017 as a result of County Council cuts in services.

Maple Tree Centre is a voluntary organisation with charitable status (No. 1174117) offering a range of early education activities for children 0-5 years in partnership with their parents and carers for whom it is a place for playing with their children and enjoying the mutual support of fellow parents and carers. The Centre serves the original catchment area of the Maple Tree Children’s Centre which it replaces.

Local parents and residents involved. Since the closure of the Maple Tree Children’s Centre a group of local parents and residents has set up a committee to revive the Centre under local community control. The Centre first opened its doors in July 2017 and its programme has been growing ever since. In July 2017 the Centre was granted charitable status and the committee has had to raise its own funds and employ its own staff and volunteers. Nearly 100 families now take part in the Centre’s programme.

Volunteer helpers: The support of volunteers is crucial to the Centre. Volunteers help run sessions, serve on Committees and help with fundraising and keyholding. More volunteers are always welcome. 

The challenge of fundraising Anne Purse, Chair, said "It is an enormous challenge to raise our own funds to hire the building from the County, to pay for running costs, employ our staff and run a daily programme. Our rent-free period from the County Council ends in April and we will have to find over £10,000 each year for a lease. We are grateful for grants from the County Council, Wheatley Parish Council and other local parishes. But we are only half way there and still have to raise many more thousands of pounds. We hope that these grants will continue in years to come and that our parents and the wider community will rally round to help us provide this much needed service for children and families. Parents have been very supportive in making voluntary donations each time they attend.’