Play scheme 'lost to cuts'
The organisers of a play scheme that has been running for 37 years fear this year will be its last.
Rushey Play Scheme – the first set up in Leicester – is looking after about 100 children a day at a church in Belgrave.
But the team from Belgrave Playhouse, which organises it, said it would be badly affected by council cuts.
The playhouse charity, in Harrison Road, is set to lose £176,000 in total in funding from the city council.
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It is expecting to have to close completely later this year.
Playhouse project leader Sue Ranger said: "We are having another really great play scheme, one which is helping to look after so many kids, but this year it is tinged with sadness because this one could be the final one we can ever do.
"The council has told us we will be able to get the £7,500 we need from other sources, such as schools, but that funding is mythical.
"Schools have their own priorities and won't want to pay for something that is currently free.
"In any case, the council is also going stop the Playhouse's core funding so there simply won't be any staff to arrange it.
"Our 12 core staff will lose their jobs.
"It is such a shame when you see the enjoyment these kids are getting from the scheme.
"It's the same enjoyment thousands have got over the years and that will be lost."
Seven-year-old Aqib Hussain, from Belgrave, has been attending the three-week scheme every day.
He said: "It's brilliant. I can meet my friends and play football and the ladies who run it are the best.
"I really want to be able to come back next year."
Simran Banwait, 10, from Narborough Road, said: "This is brilliant. I've made lots of friends and I'd be really sad if this had to stop."
The charity also runs after-school clubs and a nursery and provides computer rooms and a sensory room.
Vi Dempster, assistant mayor for children's services, was not available for comment yesterday.
She has previously said tough choices had to be made because her department was facing a 22 per cent cut in Government grants.
It is looking to save £2.47 million this financial year, rising to £5.27 million next year and each year after.
She said: "We are not saying any of the organisations facing cuts don't do a fantastic job but we just can't absorb the levels of cuts we face ourselves."
This year's play scheme almost had to be cancelled after a building at its normal venue, Harrison Road Methodist Church, was damaged when a car crashed into it.
However, The Church of the Resurrection, in Harrison Road, stepped in.
Ms Ranger said: "We can't thank them enough."