Mothers to self-run Sure Start play group after its closure as part of Medway Council’s restructuring of early year services

A mum from Medway has decided to take over a children’s play group that was closed down by the council due to a lack of funding.

Carlene Nixon, childminder and mother of two, has received support from mums across the towns to continue running the Messy Play group at St Peter’s Church on Delce Road which was previously run by Sure Starts. Parents have donated toys and resources to the group and Carlene is confident that it will swiftly get underway.

She said, “It’s amazing how the community has pulled together to make sure it continues which just goes to show how important these groups are to people.  Even if they don’t use them anymore, they still know how important they are because they’ve obviously made an impact on people’s lives.”

Medway council have decided to close six out of 19 Sure Start centres as part of their plans to restructure the early year centres.  Instead, four ‘superhubs’ will be created and be supported by the existing 13 Sure Start centres.

Mrs Nixon however is concerned about the accessibility of these new centres for mums across the towns.

She has been given a five week trial run to see whether the play group, aimed at 0-5 year olds, will be able to continue and become self-run.  Although families who bring their children to the play group sessions are encouraged to donate £1, Mrs Nixon has already received overwhelming support and may even start a crowdfunding page.

She said, “We’ve had a huge amount of support.  People have also said that if they can’t donate something  physical then they’re happy to donate money.”

Mums in Medway launched a campaign over the summer called Save our Sure Starts.  A consultation was also opened by the council which allowed mums to express their worries and opinions about the new proposals.

Lead petitioner, Katie Clifford, emphasised how the reduced services will not be able to cater to everyone’s needs effectively and won’t prepare children properly for school.

Messy Play’s first session will start on Wednesday 1st november at St Peter’s Church, Delce Road at 10am-11am.