A ONCE-THRIVING village playgroup may be forced to close unless more babies and toddlers start to attend.
Greatham Village Playgroup, held in Greatham Community Centre, on Front Street, Greatham, Hartlepool, was once a bustling group.
It was also a lifeline for stressed-out and shattered mums to have a natter, a giggle and enjoy a cuppa.
But over the past two years the group has changed hands several times. Leaders Hayley Hall and Vicky Wood believe this has led to a drop in the numbers as people wrongly think it has shut.
Hayley, 24, who lives in the village with her husband Jonathan Hall and their seven-month-old baby Harry Hall, said: “It used to be a busy toddler group when I was little and up to a few years ago. But it’s had a couple of play leaders swapping over so I think people thought it had closed.
“Also I think people think that with it being in a village it would be a clique but it’s not like that. It’s a really friendly group and people from all over the town are welcome to come. We don’t want them to be put off.”
Hayley added: “We’re open to suggestions on different things people would like to do and if there are any children with any special needs they’re more than welcome to bring their own things.
“We’d love to meet some new people and it’s a good way for mums, dads or grandparents to have a break, a cuppa or a natter, while the kids make some new friends and play.
“If more people don’t come then we might have to close. We have to pay for the cost of the hall so we’re running on a bit of a shoestring budget. We won’t have to close immediately but if it doesn’t pick up next year we might have to think about it.”
Hayley said the playgroup has been averaging between four and 10 children per session, but there is plenty of room for more members as the community centre hall can hold 100 people.
Youngsters can take advantage of the toys on offer, arts and crafts, and snacks of toast, fruit and juice.
There are two playgroup sessions a week, in term time only, from 9am until 11am on Mondays, and 9.30am until 11.30am on Wednesdays.
Also on Wednesdays health visitor Jenny Jones is at the centre, from 9.15am until 10.30am, so new mums can also have their babies or toddlers weighed, or speak about any health concerns they may have.
The playgroup costs £1.50 for children aged six-months and over, and 50p for under six-months. Refreshments are available at a smaller charge.