Flo’s – The Place in the Park is a genuine community initiative. A campaign by local people to take over the running of a former children’s centre convinced Oxfordshire County Council to award the contact to the community-backed local charity Aspire.
The building is owned by Oxford City Council and has a long history of serving the local community. In its early days it was a family centre run by social services. In 2007 Oxfordshire County Council secured Sure Start funding and a brand new building was built in 2008. The county council has long-term tenure of the building.
The children’s centre offered families with young children services provided by many different agencies. The announcement of its closure in 2016 due to budget cuts was deeply saddening for many, and one which posed serious challenges for families, parents, carers and children living in the area.
Following several months of negotiations, and expressions of interest, the local campaigners formed a steering group to support the vision for a locally-managed project initiated by the Nature Effect Community Interest Company. Led by local charity Aspire, the community group developed their business plan to create a community-run, enterprise-funded centre that would continue to support families and be sustainable in the longer term.
In September 2017, Oxfordshire County Council awarded the contract to the community-backed local charity Aspire, to work with the community to incubate a welcoming, community-led and managed space in this fantastic building in the heart of Florence Park.