Sad day as Spalding playgroup is forced into closing

Georgina Twelves (left) with mums and children at 345 Playgroup. Photo: Tim Wilson. (SG201117-102TW)
Georgina Twelves (left) with mums and children at 345 Playgroup. Photo: Tim Wilson. (SG201117-102TW)
  • Changes to funding and parents’ working patterns blamed for decision
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Jobs will be lost and parents left looking for new childcare when a Spalding playgroup shuts – just before Christmas.

Georgina Twelves, owner of 345 Playgroup, based at Spalding United Reformed Church in Pinchbeck Road, was devastated to have to break the news to parents and staff.

It is really sad and I do not want to see the children go without. A lot of parents have asked us not to close. But I think it is time for a new chapter. It is sad for the children who have to find somewhere else.

Playgroup owner Georgina Twelves

It means the five members of staff, including herself, will need to look for new employment and 17 children, aged from two to four, will have to find a new place to go.

Georgina said: “Changes to Government funding and the nature of employment in the area mean we just can’t continue.”

At one point the playgroup had 52 children, but Georgina said they made a decision to cut that down to 28 due to changes to space at the playgroup.

They moved from the big hall at the church, which was too noisy, into a smaller room which allowed children better access to the garden.

However, she said it is not sustainable to keep the group open any longer, as numbers have fallen to just 17 children.

She said: “Children of working parents now get 30 hours a week free childcare (subject to criteria) under new Government law (for children aged three to four) but I cannot do that, as I am open only 18 hours a week.

“I am open term-time only and would need more staff and it is not cost-effective. My phone rings and people want a full-time space, but I cannot offer that.

“People might work shift patterns from 10am-2pm or 2pm-6pm. We are open four days a week – 9.15am-3.15pm Monday and Wednesday, we’re closed Tuesday and open Thursdays and Fridays 9.15am-12.15pm.

“Some parents may not meet the criteria to get funding and have to pay an additional fee for childcare.

“It is really sad and I do not want to see the children go without. A lot of parents have asked us not to close. But I think it is time for a new chapter. It is sad for the children who have to find somewhere else.

“We have had a fantastic group of children and a fantastic parent partnership. Events that stand out were going to the fire station, Ayscoughfee Gardens, the panto and the library.”

“We were the last independent pre-school in Spalding and cannot offer the hours that those attached to a nursery can provide.”

Georgina (36) bought the playgroup five years ago with business partner Brendan Moran. At the time they took it over, she said it needed investments of time and money for improvements. The team’s hard work paid off with Ofsted rating it ‘good’ for a second consecutive time at the end of last year. The playgroup will close on December 15.

Georgina said: “We’ll be having a Christmas sing-song on our last day and are inviting any parents who have had children come to the playgroup over the years to come and join us at 10.30am at the United Reformed Church. There will be coffee and mince pies.”

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