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Silwood Estate playgroup re-launched thanks to an £11,500 donation from L&Q

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Silwood Estate playgroup re-launched thanks to an £11,500 donation from L&Q

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Published by Alex Cater for L&Q in Communities and also in Education

Children and families in and around the Silwood Estate, Southwark, are celebrating the re-launch of their local playgroup thanks to the work of the Silwood Community Steering Group and an £11,500 grant from L&Q housing association.

The re-launch of the playgroup, now renamed the “Under 5’s Stay and Play at the Silwood Family Hub,” was marked with a reception for parents and carers held at the Lewington Community Centre this week.

The Under 5’s Play and Stay will allow parents to socialise whilst their children play and make new friends in the well equipped centre. The service will be available for £1 to all local residents on the Silwood Estate. L&Q manages more than 2,800 homes in the Southwark area, around 300 of which are on the Silwood Estate.

One of the largest housing associations in the capital, L&Q owns 70,000 homes across London and the South East as well as being a leading residential developer of new and affordable homes.

The Silwood Family Hub will be run by two local residents of the Silwood Estate, Rita Edmond and Emma Coggins. Open weekdays between 9:30am and 12pm, around 20 children and their families are expected to attend daily.

If demand allows it is hoped that the service will be extended to afternoon sessions, which will provide parents with training and education opportunities whilst their children are looked after by staff.

There has been a playgroup at the Lewington Community Centre site since 2008 but about 18 months ago its funding was cut, forcing it to be closed for eight months.

The Silwood Community Steering Group—an organisation of local residents—worked to re-launch the playgroup and approached a number of local organisations for funding, including the owner of the building, housing association L&Q.

L&Q’s Neighbourhood Committee Fund awarded them a grant of £11,500 for start up funding as well as offering them the space rent-free for one year. To ensure the future of the Silwood Family Hub, L&Q has also committed to working with the organisation to fundraise and secure future backers.

Facilities available to local residents at the Under 5’s Stay and Play include an outdoor playground, a medium sized classroom with a soft play area as well as occasional use of the main hall. They are also plans to take the children on outings such as nearby Surrey Docks Farm.

The playgroup will share the space with a number of organisations based at the Lewington Community Centre. These include Hornafrik, an outreach service for the East African community, and Morley College, who run literacy, numeracy and IT courses as well as a crèche and training for crèche workers.

Rita Edmond, Under 5’s Stay and Play Manager and Joint Chair of the Silwood Community Steering Group, says:

"This is a welcome new chapter for the playgroup’s future. I would recommend that any mums and dads of preschool aged children in the area come down to have a look at what we can offer. We hope that our facilities and services will encourage many more people to take advantage of our nurturing and sociable environment.”

Karen Westbrook, Resident Services Manager, L&Q, says:

Beyond bricks and mortar, part of our purpose as an organisation is to create places where people want to live. Helping the Silwood Community Steering Group to re-launch a playgroup service was a great opportunity for us to step in and support the nearby community and L&Q residents of the Silwood estate.”

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