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children at playgroup
children at playgroup

Playgroup's future secure thanks to funding

Halkirk Playgroup and Toddler Group operate from Halkirk Primary School. The Playgroup had 24 registered users at the time of application and the Toddler group had 11 children attending each weekly session. The statutory requirement for playgroups was to provide 15 hours per week per child, however the Halkirk Playgroup was offering 30 hours per week to make working life easier for families. The Playgroup also offers additional services to the basic statutory entitlement, such as trips to Thurso library and music provision.

During 2019, the Highland Council carried out a restructuring of the way it administers its grants to playgroups which were to see a significant reduction for the summer term. However, announcements by the Scottish Government in 2019 would see the entitlement move from 15 hours to 30 hours per week for all playgroups, meaning that the grant would increase again later in the year, solving the funding problem in the long term.  

The Committee was keen to continue to offer the full 30 hours to prevent disruption for working parents who would otherwise struggle to manage, and for the benefit of the children who were already used to the routine of attending sessions. The Committee had anticipated a shortfall of £6,000 in the necessary funds which, if not met, would prevent this plan from going ahead. This would mean that parents would only be able to access either morning or afternoon sessions.  

The Committee went on to raise a total of £3000 through a number of fundraising events including a sponsored toddle, coffee mornings, a ladies night, a Christmas Raffle, and operating the gates for another group at a car rally. The gap of £3,000 was then requested and secured from the Achlachan Wind Farm Fund to ensure that services could continue uninterrupted. 

Jennifer Hammill, the groups Secretary said:

“The nursery was able to run in the black and meet all staff costs until the end of the term and this year things are looking much better as the Highland Council hours (therefore the payment from them) and the number of kids have increased so it looks like cash flow will be good for the year ahead. We publicised the award on the nursery parents Facebook page and in our newsletter. We thank the Panel for making the award.”