A leading Amber Valley housing provider has joined forces with a group of mums to help protect vital services for young families in Belper.
Futures Housing Group has agreed to let Belper Children’s Centre in Alder Road for a reduced rent so a volunteer group can provide support to vulnerable families.
When Derbyshire County Council (DCC) closed the centre due to budget cuts, Belper Early Years Fun was set up to rescue services such as playgroups and breastfeeding peer support, which are accessed by around 200 people.
Group coordinator Angie Hodgson said: “We were devastated when we heard that DCC were having to close the children’s centres as we know how valuable they are to the local community.
“When we heard that an agreement had been reached for us to continue providing services, it was really emotional. We have poured so much into making this happen.”
The group’s business plan includes sub-letting rooms to generate income and providing volunteer placements with work skills training.
They are also looking to expand services to include primary school aged children.
Angie added: “We are really grateful to Futures for continuing to lease the centre on a peppercorn rent, and to Derbyshire County Council for holding the lease and allowing us to keep some of the toys and equipment.”
Futures, which manages around 9,100 homes throughout the East Midlands, has also donated £500 to the group to provide new signage, toys and some landscaping tools.
Futures Group director Suki Jandu said: “We have a clear corporate aim to create great places so we’re delighted that we can support such a committed group of volunteers.
“While no-one wants to see services cut, stories like this are a heart-warming reminder of how communities can step in and save the day.”
A number of other groups and individuals have pledged financial aid for the group too, including Belper Town Council, CVS, and Derbyshire County Councillors John Owen and Stuart Bradford who each donated £1,000 to the cause.
Coun Owen said: “We don’t want to be in a position where we’re closing facilities like children’s centres, but severe budget cuts mean we don’t have the funds we need to run services as we have before.”
Coun Bradford added: “I’m delighted that this well-used facility can now continue for the benefit of all the children and parents in the area.”