Playgroup needs funds for venue

A PLAYGROUP that has been meeting for more than 20 years in the same place is calling on local businesses for support after they were told to move out.

The Epsom Playgroup has met once a week at the Epsom Maternal and Child Health Centre for two decades. But they were informed by the City of Greater Bendigo before Christmas to find an alternative as the space is being transformed into an office for a second nurse.

After a difficult search the group has found a space at the Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve but it is not child-friendly and there is no secure storage.

One challenge facing the group is finding the money to pay for the room, which had previously been given to them for free.

Playgroup co-ordinator Rebecca Calvert said the group was reliant on grants and donations.

“We are a low cost playgroup,” she said.

“We are trying our hardest to keep it at $2 per family per session.

“We have applied for a few grants and some businesses have come on board.

“We want to be positive.

“The extra space will be fantastic. The playgroup has seen nine new families start in the last three weeks with around 20 families and 35 kids in total.

 “But there is no outdoor fence, it is not appropriate for playgroup aged children and storage is our number one priority.

“The playgroup has been going for more than 20 years and is a really good support network. There is a great need for it.”

Parent Rebecca Turnbull said there are pros and cons to the change.

“We have outgrown the other venue. If every family came every Thursday it would be very busy.

“A lot of mums who are new to the area come to make friends, we are a vital link

“But there are a lot of resources we need and it comes down to money.

City of Greater Bendigo community partnerships manager Suzie Mansell, said they investigating storage options for the playgroup, but due to an increase in births in the area there had been an increase in service demand and they needed a second office at the centre.

“Expansion of the centre is essential for the City to continue to deliver quality services to this growing community."

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