SHARES in a community-led project to revamp a former children’s centre and bring ‘much-needed’ services to East Oxford are now on sale.

The group behind the scheme are hoping to raise around £50,000, which will include matched funding, to help the Florence Park hub pay for initial costs.

It comes a year after the children’s centre became a casualty of a £6m cut by Oxfordshire County Council to funding for open access services at 44 centres.

Families were left devastated in February 2017 when the Rymers Lane children’s centre closed its doors.

Local residents were determined not to lose the site entirely, however, and more than 1,500 people signed a petition calling on the county council to approve plans to reopen the building.

In September Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed proposals for charity Aspire to take over the East Oxford site and transform it into a community hub.

The centre, now called Flo’s, will house a new café, a nursery, a community drop-in space and meeting rooms.

Aspire will receive £30,000 over the next three years from the council from a £1m pot to help groups reopen community centres closed following cuts, but additional funding is needed to get the service started.

Annie Davy, one of the project’s founding members, said: “When the children’s centre was closed down it left many families without childcare provision and much-needed services.

“Flo’s will offer a welcoming and inclusive space for our community to come together and fill this gap.”

She added: “It won’t be able to do everything the children’s centre could, we haven’t got the budget, but it will have a midwife service and a nursery that we want to have open by September.”

The cafe will be the first service to open, with a planned launch date of the end of next month.

Allowing people to buy shares in the project will enable organisers to raise enough to ensure cash flow while the hub’s full range of services come into operation.

Shares start from £250 rising to a maximum of £25,000, with a reduced share cost of £100 for people living within the OX4 postcode.

Shareholders will become members of the organisation with voting rights at annual meetings, and a projected return of investment of two per cent per annum.

Trustee Scott Urban said: “It also offers a potential return on investment and gives residents the chance to join us in this exciting community run initiative.”

Ms Davy added she hoped it would inspire other groups to use the model.

The offer officially launched yesterday and will remain open until June 18.

For more information about buying a share in Flo’s visit

Trustee chair Candy March said: “It is a prime example of a truly community-run project which is going to make a real difference to filling a pressing need for local families.”