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Catherine McKinnell MP to officially re-open expanded Lemington Playgroup

Catherine McKinnell MP to officially re-open expanded Lemington Playgroup

Catherine McKinnell has been invited by HealthWORKS Newcastle to officially re-open the newly expanded playgroup at The Lemington Centre at a special event taking place on Saturday 10th October (11am-1pm).

The Newcastle North MP, whose constituency office is also based within The Lemington Centre, will cut the ribbon at the playgroup at 12noon.

HealthWORKS Newcastle, which operates the playgroup, is a charity working across the city to support people living in lower income areas to manage their health and wellbeing – this includes running two community centres, The Lemington Centre and The Health Resource Centre in Benwell.

The new Lemington Centre playgroup was able to open its doors to more children in September thanks to generous financial support received from a range of sources, including The Clothworkers’ Company, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Lemington Ward committee.

The number of playgroup places available at each session has increased from 14 to 24 – which means HealthWORKS is able to offer places to more families entitled to receive 15 hours’ of free childcare for 2-year olds, and more universal 3 and 4 year old places. The number of ‘unique’ children attending the playgroup each year will rise from 60 to 120. Some 88% of the children using the playgroup live in the Lemington area.

The long-held ambition to provide more playgroup places for local children was given a further boost by staff from the Warburton’s factory in Newburn, who gave up their time to dig out the foundations for the extension – moving mountains of earth on a very hot summer’s day. Warburtons’ architect also drew up the plans for the new playgroup at no charge, whilst IKEA donated a range of new equipment to help kit out the bright and airy new space, which has been completely refreshed.

Indoors, children can now benefit from communication-friendly spaces, and an ‘heuristic’ play area to support their natural curiosity to explore. The new playgroup also features a story area, a role play area, construction and tools area, mark-making/messy area, and a problem-solving space. The outdoor play space has also doubled in size, opening onto The Lemington Centre’s community garden – enabling the children to be active outside as much as possible.

Catherine said:

‘Being able to access affordable, good quality childcare is so important for young families, and I’m really thrilled to be invited to open the new playgroup in Lemington.

‘Having already had a few sneak peaks, I know what a lovely and exciting space this is for children to learn and explore.

‘Importantly, it’s located right in the heart of the community. The Lemington Centre is always an absolute hive of activity, and the extended playgroup is another string in the bow of this vital resource for local people.’

Chief Executive of HealthWORKS Newcastle, Sarah Cowling, said:

‘The Lemington playgroup is a hugely important part of HealthWORKS’ activity, because we know that high quality early education and childcare, delivered with love and care, can have a powerful impact on young families. Children develop so quickly in their early years and a child’s experiences between and birth to age five have a major impact on their future life chances.

‘Staff and volunteers worked incredibly hard throughout the summer to ensure that we were ready to open our doors in September, and we are very grateful to all who helped to make this fantastic expansion happen.’