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Howgill Family Centre


How it all began

14/15 Howgill Street has had a varied history but for some years the building had been known as Wyndham House Nursery School. This was a private venture providing a full day service for pre school children.

Early in 1977 the Pre School Playgroups Association were approached for assistance as the Nursery had run into financial difficulty. PPA found themselves unable to assist with the major problems of Wyndham House Nursery School’s high running costs, poor facilities and a building sadly in need of repair and decoration. However, it was recognised by PPA and the parents using Wyndham House that this was a potential resource, not to be lost.

In February 1977 the Nursery School closed and a management group was formed, which included parents of children who had been attending the Nursery School, representatives of PPA, Social Services, Education, and Health along with other interested parties. It was soon recognised that the needs of children in the Whitehaven area extended far beyond the pre school age group and the Nursery School.

A more imaginative plan emerged incorporating many ideas which would incur considerable amounts of money and permanent staff. Save the Children Fund were approached for funding, whilst the management group continued the task of fund raising, repairs, alterations, decoration in order to bring the building up to standard for use as a family centre. Save the Children agreed to fund the project for a period of two years, 1978-1980 and a community worker was appointed.


Following this, the organization has grown and progressed out of all recognition, among the many milestones along the way have been:


1980  Launch of first playbus, this and successors ran until 2011


1984  Manpower Services funding to train mothers to return to the workplace


1986  Opening of Toy Library


1987  Townsend Philimore Conference  "Health Inequalities in Deprived Areas"


1988  Establishment of Orgill Open Gates Centre with PPA Opportunities for Volunteering funding


1990  Launch of Volunteer Home Support Service (the first in Cumbria)


1994  Establishment of Ewanrigg Family Support Service funded by Francis Scott Charitable Foundation


1994  Winston Churchill Fellowship to study HiScope/Perry in Ypsilante


1998 Achieved Early Excellence Status


1999 Nov 15th  Appointed Sure Start Trailblazer following creation of Government SureStart programme


2002  Opening of Howgill Centre at Birks Road


2005  Designated as a Children's Centre


2008 Contracted by local authority to provide Children’s Centres in Whitehaven, Cleator Moor and Egremont


2011 Contract renewed


2015 Contract renewed, now to include Millom Childrens Centre


2015 Vacated 14/15 Howgill Street, headquarters moved to Birks Road Cleator Moor