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End of an era as playgroup closes

Date published: 10 July 2014

A PLAYGROUP which has supported thousands of families and children with special needs across the borough for 47 years is to close.

The shock move was revealed by the heartbroken organisers of Saddleworth Special Needs Playgroup, which is based at St Anne’s Church Hall, Lydgate.

They made the decision to shut because four of the group’s trustees are retiring and, in addition, they cannot find new staff and volunteers with appropriate skills.

One of the team said: “Everyone has been in floods of tears for the past month. It’s all so upsetting.”

The group will finally close its doors after the morning session on Thursday, July 17.

Kath Humphreys, one of the joint-playgroup leaders who joined in 1981, said: “It’s a devastating decision. Four of our trustees are retiring and that, linked to the lack of helpers with the necessary expert qualifications, means we can’t continue.”

The playgroup was originally based at the Cooper Street NHS Clinic, Springhead, where it operated for more than 40 years.

But after the building was sold, the group moved to Lydgate two years ago and now provides a wide range of teaching aids including a playground with specially-designed equipment.

Ms Humphreys (62) said: “ We have never excluded a child because fees cannot be met. And our volunteers who give of their time to help in a morning, will drive or escort a child if transport is not available.”

Kath works with Sue Jones (65), who returned as joint-playgroup leader to help supervise the centre after retiring a year ago.

“Ann Plackett founded the group in 1968 and had the vision to drive it forward. And currently Janet Lowe, who has been with us 20 years, has been supporting us.”
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How sad, this group does fantastic work, a family member went there. The support to children and their families was invaluable.

This is bad news indeed. There must be high numbers of people in Saddleworth who could step in and continue the excellent work
Surely it cannot be right for children with special needs NOT to have the help they need.

This is a real shame!! My son attended in 1995 when it was the only playgroup in Oldham that accepted young children with special needs! My son Christopher loved it and he was well cared for during the time he was there! Good Luck to Kath and Sue, we have never forgotten you xx


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