Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Save Telegraph Hill Playclub (and the rest)

A meeting was held at the Barnes Wallis Community Centre in New Cross last Saturday to launch a campaign to save Telegraph Hill Playclub (once known as the One O'Clock club when it opened at that time). The parent and toddler facility in Telegraph Hill Park, Erlanger Road SE14, has provided a place for many years for parents, childminders and other carers to bring their pre-school children to play and socialise.  As a result of Government cuts to children's services, its future funding from Lewisham Council is in doubt - though no final decision has been taken.

Of course anybody can bring their kids to the park, but the Playclub offers something different - a dedicated indoor and outdoor space for younger children with their parents. On cold wet days in particular, places like this are invaluable. Children get to play with their peers and learn how to get on with each other, parents get an opportunity to get out of the house and meet others without the pressure to spend money or suffer the scowls of the kind of people who moan about children being seen in cafes.

Obviously the streets around Telegraph Hill park aren't the most deprived in Lewisham, but the club and indeed the park attracts people from all kinds of backgrounds from New Cross, Honor Oak, Brockley and beyond. In any case, 'middle class' parents also suffer from the kind of isolation and post-natal depression that places like these help to counter.

The playroom has been under threat a number of times before - I remember going to protest meetings more than ten years ago when I took my own kids there. In the past it has pulled through. This time round the fight will be harder because of the scale of Government cuts. Two years ago the replacement of Sure Start funding with the Early Intervention Grant for children's services was accompanied by a big reduction in funding. While final funding for 2013-14 has not yet ben announced,  the Local Government Chronicle reported last week  that 'Councils’ funding for their own early intervention projects is set to plunge by more than £430m over the next two years, according to government figures seen by LGC - much more than originally thought'. That amounts to a 17% reduction in funding for Councils' children's services next year, with further cuts in the folowing year.

Save Telegraph Hill Playclub has a facebook page; email savetelegraphhillplayclub@gmail.com, sign http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savetelegraphhillplayclub/
I gather that users of the Deptford Park Playclub are also concerned about the future of the similar service there - they too have launched a petition. Lewisham's website also lists Playclubs in Friendly Gardens SE8, Forster Park (Downham) and Grove Park SE12.

(this morning  - Tuesday 13th November - a London Tonight film crew are expected down to Telegraph Hill to cover the campaign - please come to centre at 10.30am if you would like to show your support)


Anonymous said...

As the mayor seems to be scratching his head to find cuts, perhaps he should be reminded that he doesn't really need a chauffeur driven car however justified tinyurl.com/d26zcsu

Fabhat said...

Friendly Gardens is also under threat and like Telegraph Hill, covers quite a mix of people and a wide area. There are no similar indoor play/socialisation spaces in the vicinity that are open every (week) day and it is a resource that will be very much missed if it closes down.