Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, has branded as “a disgrace” the Government decision to cut a grant to a specialist nursery in South Croydon which, for the past 40 years, has helped school-aged mums get back into full-time education.
Cotelands Nursery, based in John Ruskin College on Selsdon Park Road, will close in July after its £120,000 a year “Care to Learn” grant was axed.
The best efforts of the nursery’s dedicated staff could not make good the funding cut.
“We’ve met with the council, we’ve restructured, we’ve done all of the short-term things,” said Jenny Adamson, the deputy head teacher at Saffron Valley Collegiate, which manages the nursery.
“We reduced the size of the nursery from 40 to 32 to reduce the running costs, staff have taken pay cuts, we’ve looked for charity bids but we can’t satisfy the criteria as we aren’t a charity and we can’t apply for charity status because we’ve run out of time.”
The nursery operates in school term time, caring for babies and infants while their mothers are able to continue in full-time education. When first opened in Croydon, it was regarded as a ground-breaking, forward-thinking service which would make a massive and positive impact on the lives of the young mothers, their children and the rest of their families.
Cotelands has special support from the Croydon MP: Jones herself was pregnant at 19, when a university student.
“Cotelands is a special place which provides brilliant childcare and support to young mothers,” Jones said today. “As someone who became pregnant at 19 I know how important it is that we give these young women the chance to succeed.
“I’ve visited Cotelands several times and will be speaking to them again today. I have always been blown away by the compassion and support of the staff, and the resilience and ambition of the parents I met. Supported through often very difficult circumstances these young women achieve great things.
“It’s a disgrace that the Government has cut the funding for this incredible service and I’m deeply disappointed Cotelands have made the decision to close. The sad reality is that catastrophic cuts from central government such as the Care to Learn grant mean they have had to make this difficult decision.
“My utmost priority is now to the women and babies at Cotelands, the support they will get next year and what is available to young mothers in Croydon in the future. It’s an absolute necessity that the council puts something in place so that support doesn’t disappear altogether. I’ll be meeting with the council, I’ll raise this in Parliament and I have asked for a meeting with government ministers.
“We desperately need a government which properly invests in the lives of our young people, and supports our young mothers who need a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
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