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Nursery Hit Lottery Jackpot
20 Oct 2006

Never in their wildest dreams did staff at a West Wight nursery believe it would be them.

But the familiar Lottery slogan "it could be you" has rung true for staff at the West Wight Children's Centre, who were left stunned after finding out they were on the receiving end of a near half-a-million pound cash windfall.

The 441,387 grant from the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities programme will enable the centre to help families in the West Wight who are missing out on services because they are living in isolated rural surroundings and hard-to-reach communities.

"When they phoned to tell us, I thought I misheard and said 'pardon, 4,000?'" said Tricia Holmes, nursery finance officer.

"We apply for funding left, right and centre and a lot of the time we get a letter or phone call back saying we have not been successful and we always got the impression it was because we are not an urban, inner-city area.

"We wanted to do this project and put our all into this one but never in our wildest dreams did we expect this."

The windfall, spread over five years, will provide two support workers who will visit homes to listen to families' needs, help with problems and deliver a range of services for parents and children and referrals to other help that might be required.

"Families will have someone they will know and trust to talk to about sensitive issues and for advice and support through the good and bad times," said Mrs Holmes.

"Our experienced team will be known within the community and will be approachable and welcoming. They will identify problems in their initial stages, guide families to stop situations from becoming worse and provide a network of support, including behaviour management, play therapy, healthy eating, cooking on a budget, baby clinics and breast-feeding advice, debt management and learning activities.

"They will also help families with health and social services, job hunting, family information and childcare."

She added: "Part of their role will be working in partnership with midwives and health visitors to support families to ensure there is continuous help for parents from the time of birth. They will be like members of an extended family network.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to put these services in place. Everybody is delighted we can now offer this help."

The centre has grown over the years to offer children and parents far more services and opportunities in childcare, education and training.

While the nursery, creche and pre-school for 100 children remain the hub of the activity, the centre is now based in modern buildings alongside St Saviour's Primary School, Totland, and takes in a breakfast/after-school club, a holiday club and an impressive IT training department with fully qualified instructors.

"This is brilliant news, which means we can now put in place the staffing we need to enable this project to go forward," added Sylvia Richards, centre chairman.

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