Playgroup celebrates £200,000 boost

THE future of a playgroup in Saxmundham has been secured after winning a £200,000 bid for funding.Mothers fighting for a permanent home for Brook Farm Playgroup, Saxmundham, were yesterday delighted by the news that they have been awarded £215,750 of funding from Suffolk County Council.

THE future of a playgroup in Saxmundham has been secured after winning a £200,000 bid for funding.

Mothers fighting for a permanent home for Brook Farm Playgroup, Saxmundham, were yesterday delighted by the news that they have been awarded £215,750 of funding from Suffolk County Council.

For the past five years the playgroup has been based in a portable building on the grounds of Saxmundham Primary School.

The school now wants to increase the number of places it has for children, which means that the playgroup needs to relocate.


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Brook Farm Playgroup will now take up permanent residence in the former caretaker's bungalow at Saxmundham Middle School.

There it will be part of a new Sure Start Children's Centre, which will provide education, family support and health services in addition to child day care.

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Therese Jeffery, secretary for Brook Farm Playgroup Committee, said: “It is fantastic news knowing our future is secured and that we have a permanent home after five long years.

“We are all Mums like everyone else and do this voluntarily but we got there. I think the council was quite impressed.

“They realised that we are not just silly women but a force to be reckoned with.”

Staff and children at the independently run Brook Farm Playgroup, which is a registered charity, will celebrate the news at a Halloween disco during October half term.

The new children's centre will form part of the government's scheme to set up 35 Sure Start Children's Centres in Suffolk by the end of 2008. There are currently 11.

The centres are places where children under five years old and their families can receive integrated services and information.

They are intended to provide a range of services including affordable, flexible and high quality childcare.

Don Tricker, councillor for Saxmundham Town Council, said: “I am delighted that we are eventually catching up with everybody else and at least have got something a bit more concrete on the cards for youngsters.

“Saxmundham is woefully short of amenities generally but especially for children and young people.”

The new children's centre will mean that the playgroup can extend its hours from 20 two and a half hour sessions a week to full time hours from 8am to 6pm.

This will create more jobs for the area as more staff will need to be recruited and will also give working parents more flexibility.

Ken Sanderson, the county council's childcare development manager, said: “It will be a children's centre in the true sense of the word.

“It will also be a real benefit to the community and help regenerate the town.”

The total cost of the project is £480,000 and it is expected to be complete within the year.

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