A NEW facility has been opened for young families in Darlington.

The Darlington Railway Museum has lent a building in McNay Street to the town's Sure Start project, so it can increase the amount of help it provides for young children and their parents.

Sure Start is a national initiative aimed at ensuring young children in less well-off areas get the best start in life.

It works with parents and parents-to-be, to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of babies and young children, to help them flourish at home and when they start school.

The Darlington initiative will be run from the new office until a centre can be built in the area.

Last year, Darlington Borough Council received funding from the Government to build a Sure Start centre, which is now at the planning stage.

Until the temporary accommodation became available, the project was run from a small office and so a full range of activities could not be offered to local people.

A Sure Start spokesman said: "The Railway Museum is letting us have this building until our own centre is open, which we hope will be in about a year, and we are very excited at the possibilities it has opened up."

The centre will provide nursery care for 41 youngsters under four, and Sure Start staff hope it will become a meeting place for families.

As well as regular group meetings, the Sure Start centre will organise special days and outings throughout the summer for the whole family.

It hopes to offer sessions in writing curriculum vitae, giving up smoking and life skills for parents.