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A former synagogue and a derelict furniture showroom are among locations to be rejuvenated by new childcare schemes...
A former synagogue and a derelict furniture showroom are among locations to be rejuvenated by new childcare schemes through funding from the New Opportunities Fund's Building Neighbourhood Nurseries programme.

Grants for capital funding totalling£259,128 have been awarded today to five new projects to create good quality childcare in communities affected by disadvantage.

Developed in conjunction with local early years development and childcare partnerships, the schemes will enable children to access good quality nursery provision.

'Childcare schemes such as these are playing their part in local regeneration by creating new nurseries from neglected buildings. The diversity of these high quality projects demonstrates the Fund's commitment to supporting new solutions in childcare provision,' said Jill Pitkeathley, chair of the New Opportunities Fund. 'Enabling young families to access new childcare opportunities is good for everyone,' she added.

The largest single award is of£106,128 to the Royal Village Day Nursery in Leigh-on-Sea, Southend to convert a former synagogue into an 80-place nursery. Features of this unique refurbishment will include two VIP baby units, a training room for both staff and parents and a soft play children's gymnasium. 'It is a beautiful building, with stained glass windows, evoking a feeling of happiness,' said Bryan Woodford, joint owner of the nursery. 'This funding will enable us to renovate and use it once again for the benefit of the local community.'

Children in Essex will be able to make use of Nursery Thymes Too, also in Southend. An award of£10,000 will assist in the complete refurbishment of an existing building into a new 34-place nursery, open six days a week. No childcare provision currently exists on Saturdays in Southend and it is anticipated that this will improve employment and training opportunities for parents and carers in the local community. 'This makes a great difference to the number of children we can admit to the Nursery, which means that the Fund will help us make a real difference to the people living in this community,' said Mrs Helen Scarlett, Nursery Manager.

The Susan Isaacs Day Nursery in Bolton, Lancashire is receiving£50,000 to extend an existing nursery building to create an extra 30 childcare places. Building work has already begun and is expected to be finished in June 2002, so that children can access care facilities before the start of the summer holidays. 'We are overjoyed that we can begin to see the realisation of a dream,' said headteacher, Anne MacLeod. 'To meet the needs of our families who want care and education for their young children is a fantastic opportunity, and we really can't wait.'

Children in Woodville, Derbyshire will benefit by the grant awarded to the Woodville Neighbourhood Nursery. This completely new project has received£72,000 to build a 90-place nursery in an area in great need of additional childcare facilities. Work on the new building beganin December of last year and is due to be completed in August 2002. 'The nursery has been designed by an award winning local architect, George Choyce, and is open plan with direct access to outside play areas, making it both functional and cheerful,' said Graham Blunt, one of the project's managers. 'This funding helps with the cost of construction and will enable us to create nursery places which will help parents of young children get back into the workforce or return to full time education.'

The grant awarded to Redd Nurseries in Newcastle demonstrates an ingenious solution to childcare provision within the local community. Their grant award of£21,000 will be used to completely refurbish a disused furniture showroom in Old Benwell Village, creating 30 childcare places for children aged 0-5.

'This funding will allow us to provide the finishing touches to our nursery that will make it a special environment,' said David Hirst, nursery proprietor. 'It is a major project, but we feel it will pay off for the children and parents of Newcastle.'

Development grants have also been awarded to KNL Childcare Limited on the Isle of Wight for£5,599, and to Rainbow Childcare Limited in Bedfordshire for£4,500.


1. The Fund has allocated£85m to this programme, with an additional£15m to be made available based on demand, helping close the gap in pre-school childcare provision between affluent and disadvantaged areas. The programme aims to help more parents return to work or training, by providing money for costs such as the purchase or refurbishment of buildings and equipment. Today's grants bring the total funding awarded to over£426,000.

2. The programme is intended to complement revenue funding which the government is providing to new nurseries under the department for education and skills. Neighbourhood Nurseries Initiative, worth£203m over three years. The initiative will create at least 45,000 new day-care places in disadvantaged areas by 2004 for children from birth to school age.

3. The fund's programme will provide grants for capital expenditure, such as new buildings, refurbishment and equipment. Only projects which have been awarded revenue funding under the Neighbourhood Nursery Initiative and endorsed by their local Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership will be eligible to apply for a grant from the fund.

4.£100m is available for the Building Neighbourhood nurseries programme as part of The Fund's new round of childcare initiatives, worth£198.5m across the UK by 2006. In England,£55m of the new money has already been earmarked to provide longer term support for out of school hours childcare projects in deprived areas.

5. The New Opportunities Fund distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environment projects across the UK. We intend to support sustainable projects that will improve the quality of life of people throughout the UK; address the needs of those who are most disadvantaged in society; encourage community participation; complement relevant local and national strategies and programmes. Funding for programmes is divided between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on the basis of population weighted to reflect levels of deprivation.

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