Government funding slashed for Burnley and Pendle Playbus

Playbus Leader Carol Hopkins petitions against the closure of the Playbus. G280612/1
Playbus Leader Carol Hopkins petitions against the closure of the Playbus. G280612/1

A PLAYBUS which has helped generations of children in Burnley and Pendle get a good start in life looks set to close after government funding was slashed.

The Burnley and Pendle Multi-Racial Playbus Association, which cares for tots aged between two and four who do not go to nursery, was set up more than 30 years ago.

Since then, thousands of youngsters, many of whom have little access to social play or facilities, have benefited from activities to encourage and develop early learning.

But its three full-time staff have now received redundancy notices and limited funding means the bus can only operate until August, prompting angry parents to start a petition to save the service, which received a good rating from Ofsted following its last inspection.

Mrs Carol Hopkins, Playbus leader, said: “It is a very sad time for all of us, the children who come to the bus gain so much confidence.

This July, 60 children will be leaving to start nursery school, and it is so upsetting that the remaining 35 will not be coming back in September, and that there will be no places for the 75 children on our waiting lists.”

Staff and volunteers have tried to secure more funding to continue to run the Playbus and have written to Burnley and Pendle MPs Gordon Birtwistle and Andrew Stephenson for help.

Mrs Hopkins said: “It’s looking grim for us at the moment. The Playbus helps the children get a good start to their education before they start nursery.

“It’s so rewarding to see a child gain confidence, thrive and become an individual in their own right.

She said the Playbus was needed even more since cuts were made to services provided by children’s centres.

“It’s absolutely gutting, it’s very upsetting, but we won’t let it affect our work with the children.”