Dovecote Voluntary Parent Committee is made up of local parents who came together as a constituted group in 1996 to help meet the needs of young children and families living in a new development known as Greater Leys. We provide various services with the aim of improving outcomes and life chances for young children, children with disabilities and families experiencing multi deprivations and social exclusion.
Oxfordshire is considered to be a relatively undeprived county; however our project is based in Northfield Brook which is the most deprived ward within Oxfordshire and among the 10% most deprived areas in England. Of particular note 46% of residents have no or low qualifications, GCSE attainment of children in state schools is well below the Oxford average, there is a high number of teenage mothers and people with mental health problems. 44% of households have dependent children, compared to the 27% city average.
The population in the area has increased from 8,500 to approximately 13,000 over the past 20 years. Statistics have shown that the most socially excluded are very hard to reach making it even more crucial for existing successful groups working within these communities to be able to build on the trust and relationships already in place. Early intervention is crucial if we are to tackle social exclusion.
The overall aim of our project is around early intervention support for children and families to overcome barriers to accessing opportunities that increase their prospect to improve both their immediate wellbeing and their future life chances. We work with families managing on a low income along with high proportions of lone parent families and many residents who have been homeless or suffered from instability or other forms of disadvantage in the past.
The Dovecote Children & Families Project is fully inclusive, offering schemes below cost to ensure accessibility for vulnerable children and families. Facilities also provide much needed opportunities for children with disabilities to socialise with other children living in their community, providing them with the support they need to fully participate.
We provide many different accessible low cost out of school play facilities:
- Afterschool clubs,
- Easter and summer playschemes,
- Half term playschemes (subject to funding) for children aged 4 to 12 years old,
- Easter and summer boat project for children aged 8 to 14 years old,
- Structured stay and play sessions for 0 to 4 years old,
- Support sessions for families with young disabled children
Approximately 230 children and 200 families engage with Dovecote project annually. The Dovecote works with various organisations, i.e. Social Services, Children’s Centre, Early Intervention Hub and there are many benefits in this approach through cross-referrals, sharing best practice and building stronger partnerships reducing duplication in work.
Engaging in constructive activities increases children’s positive attitude improves motivation, increases aspirations, develops social and life skills, and enhances interpersonal skills. All of which are vital for children and to help them avoid taking risks such as experimenting with drugs/alcohol or being involved in anti -social behaviour and crime.
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Dovecote Voluntary Parent Committee