A popular children's centre is extending its support across a wider area to help even more families. Okehampton Children's Centre, managed by Barnardo's South West on behalf of Devon County Council, has already been working with parents around Whiddon

A popular children's centre is extending its support across a wider area to help even more families.Okehampton Children's Centre, managed by Barnardo's South West on behalf of Devon County Council, has already been working with parents around Whiddon Down, South Zeal, Sticklepath and North Tawton.Now it has widened its reach to include Bridestowe, Lewtrenchard and Sourton as well.Barnardo's staff provide links to parenting advice and support, childminding, health services and job opportunities for families with children under five years old. They will visit the villages on different Thursday afternoons once a month from 1.30-3pm. The 'toy library' has been a particular success. Just like a library full of books, it allows families to borrow what they want for a short period of time.This means children can enjoy new and exciting toys on a regular basis, with parents only paying a minimal charge.In addition, 'rhyme time' sessions help to support a child's speech and language development and can be continued by parents at home. Children's centre worker Nicola Stoneman said: "Toy libraries provide a cheap and easy means of providing a wide range of toys for children of all ages."Together with the rhyme time sessions, they are a great opportunity for parents to meet new people and make new friends, bringing the community closer together." Annual membership for the toy library costs just £2.50 for families and £5 for groups, with a charge of just 25p for each borrowed toy. The toys are returned when the library visits the village each month. For further information, call (01837) 658621 or e-mail nicola.stoneman@barnardos.org.uk