About The Avenue Centre - Our History
The Avenue Centre was founded in 1988, for families living, mostly, in bed and breakfast accommodation. The Church made
rooms available to these families, where the children had space to run around and play in safety, while their mothers were
made welcome and received support and friendship from the project leader. The Centre offered advice on welfare, housing
and legal issues.
After the Centre had been running for a short while, Southampton City Council Social Services Department became aware of
the work the Centre was carrying out. The Council offered financial support if the Centre was prepared to accept and work
with families from Social Services. This took the Avenue Centre into a new era needing to be more professional and
accountable. Families were referred to the Centre by health and social service professionals and agencies working with
complex families. The need for support grew rapidly and the Centre increased its service to three two- hour sessions a
week, and employed qualified play workers who, in the main, replaced volunteers. By the end of the 1990s, homelessness
was not such a big issue, but families still lived with complex issues, including domestic abuse. Other identified issues such
as drug and alcohol abuse, attempted suicide, post-natal depression, mental health, poverty, low self-esteem, poor
parental skills, to name but a few, all had to be addressed by the Centre staff. On occasion, families were accompanied to
hospital appointments, or court hearings. All of this support continues to this day.
When the project leader retired, restructuring took place and three Co-ordinators were appointed, each highly qualified in
their field. A Centre Co-ordinator, a Co-ordinator for the playroom and a Co-ordinator for the parent room. Courses and
information were cascaded to the Mums such as Incredible Years Parenting Course, understanding a child’s behaviour,
healthy eating, First Aid, fire safety, budgeting, Quitters, (giving up smoking) and so much more. Over the years parents
have been signposted to attend other relevant courses and be supported by specialised agencies.
To enable the Centre to continue and to grow, regular applications are made to Trusts for grants and other charities, such as
Children in Need, Rotary, Co-op, and others. Southampton City Council continues to support through the commissioning of
a Contract, which has to be bid for via a tendering process. The Church also continues its support, through volunteers and
donations. Generous individuals who support the Centre also make valuable contributions.
The Centre is a registered charity and therefore has to comply with Charity Commission rules and regulations. The Centre is
also registered with OFSTED and has regular inspections and in 2017, The Centre won high praise at its OFSTED Inspection.