IT IS a shame that Leeds, which bills itself as a child-friendly city, has lost a children’s centre which has provided free childcare for youngsters whose parents are involved in court cases in the city.
The Oxford Place Children’s Centre, which opened in 1983, looked after the children of defendants, witnesses and others involved in family proceedings at Leeds Crown Court and Leeds Magistrates’ Court.
The centre received the majority of its donations as a result of fundraising work done by the Methodist Women in Britain church group.
As such it did a wonderful service and helped the wheels of justice run smoothly.
Numbers of children using this service has declined in recent years from 2,500 to 700, which is still a significant number. What will these parents do now? How many of them will have other facilities to help them? Some will, of course, but a lot without friends or family nearby will find themselves unable to get to court. The Methodist Minister who is the Deacon of the centre said it was a great sadness that it had to close and that they, as a church, have to look at the best ways to use their money for the community.
It is a pity that this service couldn’t continue on a pay-what-you-can basis. There must be hundreds of people who need free or affordable childcare in central Leeds.