Play charity forced to close after 50 years following funding withdrawal

hoglands park play day by Anna Roberts SCPA

A Southampton charity that promotes free, accessible play experiences for children often in deprived local areas has been forced to close shortly after celebrating its 50th birthday.



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Southampton Children’s Play Association (SCPA) said the withdrawal of £64k a year by Southampton City Council, needed for its core running costs alone, meant it had to close its doors with immediate effect.

The charity said it had “exhausted all avenues to try and raise money” and that it now had to do “what’s best for the charity and our employees”.

It had partnered with various local community groups in the city, and had run an annual event in Hoglands Park celebrating a child’s right to play. It had also worked with SO18 Big Local to provide holiday playschemes in Harefield and Townhill Park.

Writing on SCPA’s website, play development manager Anna Roberts said: “We would like to thank everyone that has come through the SCPA doors in one way or another because we couldn't have done it without you.

“We wish all our service users well and hope you can understand the decisions that have been made. It's not that we don't care, it all comes down to money I'm afraid. Money we just do not  have. 
I have been involved as a volunteer and the manager for over 25 years.

“And it's heartbreaking to lose such a worthy cause that has helped so many individuals achieve what they thought they couldn't.”

Responding on Facebook, one commenter said: “So sad we have reached the point where local councils all around the country are at breaking point and having to consider cuts to vital services or organisations. I really hope you are able to continue”.

Another said: “Devastating loss for the city- the value of play not being recognised again as part of education and the supporting care that goes alongside is part of prevention in needing other services. Hold your head high SCPA you have served the children of Southampton amazingly have loved being part of play day every year xx”

And another responded to the news by saying: “I will always have a place for scpa in my heart I will never forget what they did for me they helped me with my anxiety and my struggle to speak to people”.

Southampton City Council was approached for comment.

Photo: Anna Roberts, Southampton Children’s Play Association

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