Playgroup is on the brink after half a century

Save our playgroup say the childern of St Nicholas, at play in their church hall
Save our playgroup say the childern of St Nicholas, at play in their church hall

A Lanark pre-school group which has served the community for more than 50 years is calling for local support to ensure its survival.

In the last decade the number of children attending St Nicholas Playgroup has more than halved and if numbers don’t recover quickly, the group, founded in 1968, will be forced to cut sessions or even shut its doors for good.

While Scotland’s birth rate has steadily declined over the last ten years, playgroup management said Scottish Government legislation, to increase funded early learning and childcare places, has further impacted playgroup attendance.

From August 2020 eligible children will be entitled to 1140 nursery hours per year, increased from the current allocation of 600 hours.

Vicky Harrison, chairperson of St Nicholas Playgroup, said: “We were anticipating a problem come August when the legislation comes into effect, but with some nurseries piloting the new hours our numbers are falling already and we have been hit with a financial crisis earlier than expected. If we close, I think it will be a huge loss and I don’t think people will realise that until it’s gone.”

The group runs three mornings per week in the Church hall and needs an average of 16 children to attend each meeting to cover costs – recently sessions have an average of 12 pre-schoolers.

The playgroup is open to children aged two to five and meets on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9.30 to 11.30am. For details phone 07811 450124.