From small beginnings, Donnington Doorstep has developed into one of Oxford’s best known and most successful family centres.
Based in Townsend Square off Donnington Bridge Road, it has helped to support mums and dads and their siblings for nearly 40 years.
It was set up in 1984 by local parents who realised that caring for children could be hard.
The drop-in centre started in a portable cabin but in 1996, after four years of hard work and fundraising, it moved into a new building which is still its home.
The two black and white pictures on this page were taken in 1986 when the centre held a party to celebrate its second birthday.
In the top picture, mum Brenda Lee is seen preparing to cut the cake she made for the party while in the other, Dawn Nash serves the last remaining pieces of the cake to Christopher Glynn and Kyle Daly.
The party that year proved to be very popular, with hundreds of children and grown-ups flocking to join in.
The Oxford Mail reported: “The aim of the day was to illustrate the role of the day centre, which is open each weekday for parents to relax while their children enjoy fun and games under the watchful eye of a co-ordinator.
“A giant-sized cake was baked and needless to say, it was reduced to crumbs during the day. Even the sun joined in the celebrations by shining throughout the day.”
Co-ordinator Elaine Tilley said as she and her helpers packed everything away at the end of the party: “The day was a great success. People seemed to have had a thoroughly enjoyable time.”
Over the years, the Oxford Mail has been privileged to cover many events at the centre, including Pancake Day, festivals, international celebrations, arts and crafts days and much more.
The centre marked its 25th anniversary in 2009 with a community fun day and a silver-themed parade, and further celebrations followed in 2014 when hundreds of people attended the 30th anniversary party.
One supporter recently summed up many people’s feelings by posting a warm tribute on Doorstep’s website.
It read: “Doorstep is a fantastic centre. Out of all the ‘stay and play’ centres, this has to be one of the most enriching.
The longer opening hours make it unique as other centres have very limited sessions and times. Long live Doorstep!”
Donnington Doorstep is an independent, community-based family centre delivering a range of universal and specialist services.
It’s a home from home drop-in for children, young people and their families as well as a hub for local community activity.
From the purpose-built centre in East Oxford its activities focus on play, food, support and community development.
The website says: “We aim to increase happiness and emotional wellbeing for local children, young people and their families, and to support good mental and physical health. We want to improve life chances for the socially excluded children and young people we work with, and to enable them to realise their full potential. Through this we will see a stronger, safer and more integrated community in our surrounding areas.”