I was saddened to receive the news on 11th May 2016, from the manager of Ealing Children’s Services that my petition to save Havelock After School Club did not change the council’s decision to close a much cherished and loved play resource in Southall.
This cut is part of a bigger picture of funding reductions to play services across the country, which I became aware of as part of my research for the campaign. It’s heart wrenching that funding cuts, imposed by central government are hitting the most vulnerable and deprived in society, very hard.
From my discussion with the Children’s Services Manager, I know that the closure of Havelock After School Club, comprises only part of the savings that need to be made and that in the next financial year, the summer play schemes may also be at risk of closure. Last year, the Play Service, cut the team that provided consultancy services, to private sector after school clubs.
It is hard to feel optimistic, in this current economic climate and although I am uncertain about whether there will be an alternative to Havelock After School Club, provided by either a voluntary sector or private sector organisation, I always try to find positives in a negative situation. The positives for me are that my children have developed, self confidence, fitness, new friendships, evaluation, organisation, problem solving and other skills but most importantly in a time of uncertainty and change, I believe that they have been equipped with the resilience and adaptability to cope with this.
Although the campaign to save Havelock After School Club which is set to close in July 2016, did not succeed, I have no regrets about starting a petition. I have had an interesting and eventful journey and I know that my commitment to the importance of play for all children is unwavering.