A NEILSTON playgroup may be forced to close if it fails to attract new members and plug a £500 gap in its funds.

Neilston Toddler and Baby Playgroup has been running out of the Glen Halls for 35 years but has recently hit difficulties and is unable to pay its bill to East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust.

Senior playleader Donna-Ann Taylor has been with the group for 16 years but has no involvement in the running costs, which are dealt with by a committee of parent volunteers.

She said: “Because the committee relies on volunteers, it can be hard to get people to commit. We rely on them to make sure fees are collected and the hall lets are paid and, every year, we take on a new committee.

“We don’t get any grants or funding from anyone, so we rely solely on fees and fundraising. The number of kids coming to the group has dropped, which makes it harder to cover the cost of our hall lets, but I had no idea that we’d fallen so far behind until we found out the last committee had left us with this bill.

“It was a shock when we found out.

“One of the parents suggested we start a GoFundMe page and we’ve had a positive response on that.

“We’re planning to meet with the council to discuss what kind of funding and support might be available to us. What we really need are people who will come regularly, rather than drop in every other week.

“It used to be that parents would pay for their place, whether they could make it that week or not, and that would pay for our rent – but that hasn’t been happening.

“People have been coming and going as they please and they’ve not been chased, which has left us a bill for lets we can’t pay.

“There is a lot of concern because we have been in the community for so long. It would be a shame if we had to close because no-one was coming forward to help.”

Amanda Dowds first attended the group as a toddler but now takes her own two children and has volunteered to join the new committee to help with fundraising.

She said: “We’ve already begun organising a lot of fundraising events, like a sponsored Hallowe’en walk and Christmas party, but none of that will be able to happen unless we can pay our bill by the end of this month.

“It would be heartbreaking for the kids if the playgroup closes because they all absolutely love it. We’re determined to save it.”

Open to children aged one to three, the playgroup meets at Glen Halls every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9.15am, and costs £4 per session.

Send an e-mail to neilstontoddlers@gmail.com or call 0794 182 7357 for more details.

Would you like to support the playgroup?
The online fundraising campaign can be found at www.gofundme.com/save-neilston-playground