Imagine the scene. A rural area, a dilapidated castle… A small blond haired boy rushes through the grass and bushes brandishing a wooden sword pretending to be King Arthur… We know who that little boy grew up to be, Outlander actor, Mr Sam Heughan. Sam was born and raised in Glenkens, enjoying the freedom of the countryside. Sam Heughan now plays the character Jamie Fraser in Outlander, also known as “The King of Men”

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Perhaps the seeds of fun, play and imagination were planted in Sam at a Playgroup.

The Glenkens Gazette provided us with a great article about Sam growing up in the area, and a story about the playgroup, last month.

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The Glenkens Children’s Club needs some help. You may like to consider helping them survive.

They provide the only childcare for under-threes for up to 27 miles, and they are in danger of collapse. And to top it off, the closure may put the future of the Glenkens Community Centre at risk as well, as the Playgroup is its most regular user.

Glenkens Children’s Club (GCC) Playgroup was created after the closure of Glenkens Playgroup due to Council funding cuts in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, the group has primarily relied on funding awarded by the Big Lottery’s Community & Families Fund. This fund has now closed and although the group remains extremely grateful to fundraising by parents and local supporters the other major funding sources that have been tried have not been successful.

Local authorities encourage small communities to take on community ownership of buildings and services which were previously council-run. This is a UK trend. GCC Playgroup Chair Sarah Parry says; “It stacks up like a house of cards; if the playgroup goes the community centre is potentially no longer viable. The numbers of children using a facility like playgroup in a rural area will always be small and fluctuates from year-to-year. However, it remains a central service to encourage people with families or thinking of having families into the area. Refusing to fund a playgroup is yet another mechanism for depopulating the Glenkens.”

If the Playgroup folds there is a serious risk that it won’t be financially viable for the community centre to stay open. Helen Keron, Chair of the Community Centre management committee, said; “GCC Playgroup is our biggest user. Of the 1100 hours a year for which the building is hired out, the Playgroup uses more than half. It would be a huge blow to the Centre if they were to shut due to lack of funding. We love having the children here in their dedicated playroom and would be most sad to see this valuable community service have to shut”.

Within the whole of the Glenkens – which encompasses the villages of Balmaclellan, Carsphairn, Dalry and New Galloway, and Mossdale, Laurieston, Parton and Corsock on the periphery – there is only one childminder and no other daycare childcare provision for under-threes. This means that there are no early years education options for this age group for a distance of between 13 miles at the closest point to 27 miles at the outer reaches of the region.

The Playgroup currently provides a relaxed learning-through-play environment, while continuing to provide the required educational standards as required by the regulators, the Care Inspectorate. The Playgroup’s recent inspection confirmed they have a very good environment and provide children with good care and learning support, all of which suits under-threes and also some under-fours.

The Glenkens has already lost many of its social amenities, from schools to Post Offices shops to pubs. The further reduction of what are considered elsewhere necessary elements of society vital to people’s wellbeing would dramatically reduce the quality of life for residents as well as making the area much less appealing to people who may otherwise move to the area.

Our communities rely on core facilities such as the Playgroup, and our children deserve the best start in life regardless of whether they live in a rural or urban setting. Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, with strong communities being built on a solid foundation which starts here.

A dedicated voluntary committee are currently seeking funding – can you help us?

Please go to the website  https://glenkensgcc.wordpress.com  There is a donate link (PayPal button) on their page – any donation would be greatly appreciated.

If you feel you can help in any way please get in touch – sarah.ade@gmail.com

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One thought on “Outlander – Glenkens Children’s Club

  1. I just wanted to share this photo of my children who live just outside New Galloway and who go to Dalry School nearby. Isobel is a Cub Scout with The Glenkens pack at New Galloway, her sister Elizabeth is a member of the Beaver Scouts and their youngest sister Mahala is a member of Glenkens Children’s Club Playgroup in Dalry (as mentioned in the article above). Today they have been on parade at New Galloway Cenotaph for Remembrance Sunday.

    The young children in this area are so positive and proactive in being part of their community. We hope that we can keep local community services thriving and send thanks for any support from Sam and his fans. Thankyou so very much.

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