New focus for Swanage’s Children Centre and Day Centre

The Chapel Lane community buildings in Swanage are now under new management and will be renamed the Focus Centre as part of a plan to offer a wider range of health, care and wellbeing support for local people.

After years of negotiations, Dorset Council handed over the keys to the Children Centre and Day Centre, just off the High Street, to the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust on Monday 18th March 2024.

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The Day Centre Chapel Lane

The Day Centre, next door to the Methodist Church, was built in the 1960s on a site that was bombed in World Two

Create a Family Hub

The Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust was formed in 2013 for the benefit of the community of Swanage and the surrounding area.

It supports many projects within the town including managing Herston Village Hall in West Swanage and the former Youth Centre, now called The Centre, next door to the Children Centre and Day Centre.

The idea is to manage the three buildings together and create a Family Hub – a one stop shop for family support services similar to the old Sure Start centres.

Existing services including those offered by Care Dorset at the Day Centre and the services for babies, children and parents at the Children Centre will continue but there’s now more scope to enhance what’s on offer.

The Children Centre Chapel Lane

The Children Centre, which was formerly part of the Sure Start network, will now be integrated with The Centre and the Day Centre

The Centre Chapel Lane

The Centre, formerly the youth centre, now houses a children’s nursery and community events and will became part of the Focus Centre

Improve facilities

Over the next six months, work will start to develop the site and plans will be drawn up to improve facilities and create new, well equipped spaces for the local community to use.

The Day Centre is already equipped with a number of accessible toilets but it’s planned to go one better and create a Changing Places toilet – a larger facility with a changing bench and hoist – that can be accessed in the centre of the town by all those they need it.

While services like infant feeding support and health visitor checks of babies already take place at the Children Centre, a Family Hub can provide a wider number of services including mental health services, stop smoking support, substance abuse support, nutrition and weight management, domestic abuse support, oral health improvement and parenting support.

Although the Family Hub in Swanage won’t be able to offer everything to everyone, the ambition is to either provide the much needed health, care and wellbeing services to the Swanage community and surrounding villages or signpost people to other places where they can get the required support.

The Day Centre Chapel Lane

The Day Centre has lots of light-filled rooms with plenty of potential to improve

Bob Foster at The Day Centre Chapel Lane

Bob Foster, chair of the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust can finally start to help enhance the health, care and wellbeing services in Swanage and surrounding villages

“This is just the beginning”

Chair of the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust Bob Foster, who‘s worked tirelessly over many years to bring this plan to fruition, said:

“The wellbeing of our community is central to our purpose. We want to protect the services we currently have and to offer more.

“Over the years, local services have disappeared for one reason or another and now we want to bring them back.

“There’s a lot of potential for these buildings but it’s early days. We’ve got surveyors, architects and engineers currently assessing what can be done with them.

“We’d like the spaces to work better for the whole of the community, for children, families and older people – a place where you can guarantee a welcome and pop in for a chat!

“This is just the beginning, but over the next few years, we look forward to seeing this facility develop to offer new and improved services within the town.”

The Day Centre Chapel Lane

Possible plans to utilise some of the rooms include creating a cafe and hosting Lewis-Manning Hospice Care services

The Day Centre Chapel Lane

It’s planned that the welcome desk will be enlarged into a welcome lounge where everyone can pop in, while still maintaining secure card access to other parts of the building

Come and look round

A community open day is planned for Saturday 11th May 2024 when everyone is invited to tour the site and view and comment on the early ideas.

It will also be an opportunity for people to give feedback and put forward their own thoughts.

The Day Centre Chapel Lane

Surveyors are already assessing the building

The Day Centre Chapel Lane

The garden has plenty of potential and volunteers are being sought to take part in a work party

Further information

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