A nursery in Ferguslie Park has announced they are to close after losing their funding from Renfrewshire Council.
Children First, a non-profit organisation who run Hillview Nursery on Blackstoun Road, made the announcement last week.
Parents, children and local councillors protested outside the nursery on Friday afternoon after receiving news of the closure the previous day.
Renfrewshire News has spoken to parents of several of the children who attend the nursery. They have nothing but praise for the nursery. The general feeling initially was shock which has turned to anger. A number of the parents claim they have heard nothing so far from Renfrewshire Council in terms of support even though the Council has publicly offered support.
Photo: Parents protested, on Friday, when the closure of Hillview Nursery was announced
Photo Credit: David Cameron
Claire Caddis has two children, three-year-old Laityn and two-year-old Jax who attend the nursery. Claire is worried she may have to quit her job if the nursery closes as Jax has a variety of medical issues. The staff at the nursery have been trained to look after him and the condition is so serious, a nurse comes in to check on Jax when he is at nursery.
Claire told Renfrewshire News: “My girl Laityn is 3 and half years old and son Jax is 2 and a half.
“If the nursery closes I will more than likely have to quit my job as Jax has lots of health problems and the girls have received training on his condition since before he even started the nursery.
“He gets daily peg feeds, cannot feed properly and has failure to thrive. Every week nurses have to go into the nursery to check on him.
“This can all be done between the hospital and nursery so I can go out and work. It would take months and a lot more money for the NHS to go out and train new teachers to learn what is wrong with him. He still has not been diagnosed.”
Another parent, a dad of five who works for Renfrewshire Council, told us that four of his five children have attended the nursery. His youngest child is currently enrolled there. In the past the nursery helped one of his children who required some extra assistance.
He said: “My eldest daughter has a very complex set of allergies. She can’t takes eggs, soya or dairy. The ladies at Hillview were absolutely fantastic. They’ve had epinephrine and antihistamine training and the cook has created a specialist menu just for her. They’ve gone above and beyond.
“Without exaggerating, they have helped to raise my family. All of my kids speak about the ladies passionately. When I picked up my youngest last week, my other kids came in with me and they’re all still recognised by name.”
“We are a small community, we see them in the street, we meet them in Asda, we catch them on the buses. It’s not a case of we drop the kids off and pick them up again. Hillview are a part of our lives, they’re not just a service and the idea they’re losing their jobs is absolutely horrifying to us.”
“They do more than just look after our kids, they help raise them. They’ve looked after me and my family for the last 10 years. It will leave us in a real bind if they have to close.”
A petition was launched by Kayleigh Morrison and, so far, has received over 2,200 signatures. She told Renfrewshire News that after the news was revealed to herself and the other parents, a campaign page was created on Facebook that night by another parent.
Kayleigh and a group of parents had a meeting the following day and came to the decision that they were going to fight against Renfrewshire Council for withdrawing the funding. They have contacted every councillor in Renfrewshire as well as their MSPs and MP.
Kayleigh, said: “A couple of parents had created a Facebook page and it took off from there. We started contacting all of our councillors, yourselves [Renfrewshire News] and the Paisley Express to put the word out, then I started up the petition.
“I thought, lets get this petition up and running and sent it to the Council right away. We’re all individually doing our own emailing and calling then we bring it all together on the Facebook. page.
“We had a meeting last Friday and we were joined by three councillors who said they would support us. We discussed the things that we are worried about and our MSP, Neil Bibby, sent a list of questions we have to the Council so that they may give us the answers we need.
Photo: The letter Neil Bibby MSP has sent to Renfrewshire Council
“This nursery is so vital, not just in Ferguslie, but Renfrewshire wide.
“The Council do not realise the impact that it will have on the local community by closing it.
“I know Renfrewshire Council have said that they have been working to support the families and to help us get other childcare services but where?
“We haven’t heard anything from them – how are they working to help us – we’ve heard nothing.”
Currently 36 children attend the nursery and a number of staff face losing their jobs.
However, Renfrewshire Council have said there is sufficient capacity for alternative childcare provision in the area for all children attending Hillview Nursery. They will work with the nursery and parents to ensure the children who are losing their place will have the most appropriate solution for their needs.
In the past, the local authority provided Childcare First with financial support to ensure that there was flexible and affordable childcare in the Ferguslie area.
Photo: Four-year-old Jack MacLachlan Photo Credit: David Cameron
After new legislation was passed by the Scottish Government, the Council are looking to deliver 1,140 hours of early learning and childcare by 2020 and because of this, they have reviewed funding arrangements for all childcare providers in the independent and voluntary sector – which included Hillview Nursery.
The nursery have confirmed it will close on Sunday 31st March next year as their funding is withdrawn in stages.
A spokesperson for Childcare First, who run the nursery, said: “All of us at Childcare First are committed to working with Renfrewshire Council to deal with the reduction and eventual withdrawal of children’s services funding to the Company.
“In dealing with the impact of this reduction in funding the Company has taken the decision to effectively close Hillview Nursery from 31st March 2019.
“Our priority at present is to support our staff, children and families during this very difficult time and to work with Renfrewshire Council to find solutions for the families involved.”
Karen Kennedy, Labour councillor for Paisley Northwest also attended the protest, said: “As a local councillor for the area I am disgusted at the decision to stop the funding to Childcare First. This will have a devastating effect on the kids who attend this Nursery and their parents.
“Hillview Nursery have provided a first class service to this community for over 25 years. I’ve spoken with parents and indeed grandparents who have nothing but good stories about the place.
“The outdoor grounds the nursery has, you will not find anywhere else and the children thrive in this environment.
“I find it astonishing that whilst the SNP government are increasing childcare hours, the SNP administration in Renfrewshire are taking them away, it just doesn’t make sense.
“Myself and my fellow labour councillors are opposing this cut and will fight alongside parents, children and staff to save this much needed and loved facility.”
A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson, said: “Providing accessible and affordable high-quality childcare to all children in Renfrewshire is our priority.
“We are committed to delivering 1140 hours of early learning and childcare by 2020, in line with the Scottish Government’s target, and ensuring all private and voluntary childcare services in Renfrewshire are supported to meet this deadline is essential.
“Historically the Council provided Childcare First with financial support to ensure that there was flexible and affordable childcare in the Ferguslie and Shortroods areas.
“With the change in the amount of childcare to be provided, we have reviewed funding arrangements to ensure a consistent approach for all childcare providers in the independent and voluntary sector.
“We understand that Childcare First have made the decision to close Hillview Nursery from 31 March next year.
“There is sufficient capacity for alternative childcare provision for all children attending Hillview Nursery and we continue to work with Childcare First and parents to ensure all children have the most appropriate solution for their needs.”
If you wish to support the parents and sign the petition, you can view it here: bit.ly/2O8icp7.