Bishop Auckland playgroup to close after 34 years

A POPULAR playgroup is being forced to close after 34 years due to a lack of sustainable funding.

Woodhouse Close Playgroup, in Bishop Auckland, has seen scores of two and three-year-olds pass through its doors to learn and play over the years.

However, leader Cynthia Hall has been left with no other option than to make four members of staff and herself redundant and not reopen in September.

She said: “The playgroup will be sadly missed by the community and church outreach in this deprived area of Bishop Auckland.

“Although the numbers attending have always been good, and would be next term in September, salaries and running costs have been unsustainable.

“Funding for this age group in the voluntary sector has been very difficult to secure despite government policy changes to fund two-year-old places in nursery.

“Parents pay fees but we don’t charge them a great deal because of where we are. A lot of parents can’t afford private child care.”

Mrs Hall has submitted numerous funding applications, but she said each one has proved unsuccessful.

She said parents received a letter last week to explain about the closure and since then could not have been more supportive.

She added: “The funds are running out and we have had to make a decision, which is to close at the end of this week.

“The parents have clearly been thinking about it over the weekend because we have had them coming in offering to raise money for us and give us ideas about where to find more funding.

“Unfortunately, it is not going to help because we need sustainable funding. The parents are devastated by the news.

“We have 20 children on the register and even now parents are coming in trying to get names on the list for next term. I could understand if we had to close because of low numbers but that is not the case.

“I am devastated. I am trying not to think about what is happening too much. I don’t think I have accepted it yet. I keep hoping something might happen.”

The children will have their end of term party as usual, but Mrs Hall said it is unlikely they will hold an event to mark the closing of the playgroup.

Comments (2)

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11:00am Wed 16 Jul 14

marionx says...

lts a awfull shame,my 3yr old has gone for the past year & has come on so well. good luck to the staff & thank you. xx marion
lts a awfull shame,my 3yr old has gone for the past year & has come on so well. good luck to the staff & thank you. xx marion marionx
  • Score: 2

3:43pm Wed 16 Jul 14

hall40 says...

What sad news. This playgroup has seen many hundreds of children through its doors over the 35 years. Some past children are now bringing their children and even grandchildren it is so popular. Many thanks to the staff especially to Cynthia Hall who has worked tirelessly with the children over the last 16 years. Shame on the statutory authorities for not supporting this vital playgroup,considerin
g over £100 million has gone to the Surestart Centres over the years. The playgroup only needed a fraction of this figure. A sad day for the community and the Community Church on Woodhouse Close Estate.
What sad news. This playgroup has seen many hundreds of children through its doors over the 35 years. Some past children are now bringing their children and even grandchildren it is so popular. Many thanks to the staff especially to Cynthia Hall who has worked tirelessly with the children over the last 16 years. Shame on the statutory authorities for not supporting this vital playgroup,considerin g over £100 million has gone to the Surestart Centres over the years. The playgroup only needed a fraction of this figure. A sad day for the community and the Community Church on Woodhouse Close Estate. hall40
  • Score: 1
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