Hartlepool playcentre Oscars to celebrate landmark

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A COUNCIL run after-school and holiday service is organising an event to celebrate its 20th birthday.

The Oscar Playcentre first opened its doors in July 1993 at The Avondale Centre, in Dyke House, to help parents access employment, education and training by providing affordable childcare.

To mark its 20th anniversary staff have organised an event for Sunday, July 21.

In 1997, the Hartlepool Borough Council-run service, expanded and opened its second scheme at Wynyard Road Community Centre, in the Owton Manor area and a year later a further centre opened in Miers Avenue, in the West View area of Hartlepool.

Over the years Oscars has operated from other venues around the town but in 2012 the service was merged into a single site at West Rugby Club, in Catcote Road, after major funding cuts imposed by the Government.

The after-school service involves Oscars staff picking up children from school and transporting them to the Catcote Road centre where they take part in a wide range of educational and “fun-based” activities.

Parents then have until 6pm to collect their children.

During school holidays, parents are able drop off their children from 8am with breakfast provided for them on arrival if they wish. Children then embark on an action-packed day of fun and thrills prior to being collected by parents by 5.45pm.

Sandra Robinson, the council’s out of school co-ordinator, who has been involved with Oscars for the last 19 years, said: “Oscars has provided a very valuable service to hundreds of parents and children in Hartlepool since it opened 20 years ago and everyone is looking forward to the celebratory event on Sunday 21 July.

“Around 40 staff – both current and former employees – have indicated that they will be attending and we want as many parents and children who have been associated with Oscars to come along on the day.”

Staff have arranged a wide range of free activities including a disco, face-painting, bouncy castles and balloon-making.

Free refreshments and food will also be provided.

Labour councillor Chris Simmons, who is chairman of the council’s children’s services committee, has described the service as a “huge success story” and urged people to go along on the day and join in the celebrations.

Coun Simmons said: “Oscars is a huge success story, helping many parents in Hartlepool who have to juggle work or training with looking after their children.

“Despite the significant cuts in Government funding the council has been able to sustain the service and I think a celebration event to mark its 20th birthday is very fitting indeed.”

If anyone wants more information they are asked to contact Sandra Robinson via email at sandra.robinson@hartlepool.gov.uk or by calling 07771 936968.