Use it or lose it, Ettrick playgroup parents are told

Ettrick and Yarrow Playgroup chairperson Fiona Hewson with her three year old boy Callum.
Ettrick and Yarrow Playgroup chairperson Fiona Hewson with her three year old boy Callum.
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ETTRICK and Yarrow Playgroup needs more children if it is to secure its future, organisers have warned.

From a heyday of 20 youngsters, the group, founded in the 1970s, is now down to between four and seven children, with sessions cut to one a week.

Parent and chairperson Fiona Hewson confirmed: “The playgroup is at risk of closing because of a lack of toddlers. It’s not a financial thing, it’s purely bodies.”

Ideally, the group would like to attract a further 10 children to its Kirkhope Hall meetings in Ettrickbridge on Thursdays (9.45-11.45am).

Fiona said: “We are trying to encourage people from Selkirk and further afield, or anybody in the valley who doesn’t know about us. We’re also trying to appeal to grandparents who maybe look after children, and childminders.”

Fiona’s son, Callum, three, goes to nursery, but she still takes him to playgroup, purely to support it. She said: “The playgroup is valuable because if you are in a rural area you can go days without seeing another adult or your child seeing other children. It’s very social and it’s important for the children’s development.”

In 2010, two sessions a week – costing about £2,600 a year – were cut to one, so the group now needs about £1,500 a year to run.

Until November 2010, Children in Need covered the hall rent of £10 an hour and the playgroup leader’s wages (£9 an hour). But the charity has cut its contribution to cover only wages – and that will be reassessed in June. It costs the group £30 to £40 to run its two-hour session, but it is only taking in about £10 in attendance money.

One parent brings her child from Hawick.

Fiona commented: “I think it’s because we are a small local playgroup. People like it because there’s a closeness and a family feel to it, and the mums and dads can get a good natter.”

For further information, email ettrickandyarrowplaygroup@hotmail.co.uk, visit Ettrick-Yarrow-Playgroup’s page on Facebook or Ettrick and Yarrow Playgroup on www.netmums.com.