Pen Green centre says £1.1m budget cut will decimate services

Pen Green leader Dr Margy Whalley
Pen Green leader Dr Margy Whalley

A LEADING children’s centre has been told it faces £1.1m of funding cuts which could have a ‘devastating impact’ on families.

The Pen Green Centre in Corby fears staff and the services they provide, including 51 groups for parents and their children, after-school provision and support projects face the axe. It was told it will lose £350,000 a year for the next three years – more than half its budget – following a decision by the Schools Forum.

The forum, which is made up of headteachers and governors, is responsible for allocating the Dedicated Schools Grant from central Government.

Dr Margy Whalley, director of the Pen Green Centre, said: “It will absolutely decimate us. We’ve run all sorts of services since 1983 – a range of parent and toddler groups, ones for parents experiencing challenging circumstances at home, groups for parents with disabled children, groups for parents with severe post natal depression. These groups are a lifeline for many parents.”

Dr Whalley said most of the 120 staff had already left for the weekend and had to be contacted by text. She added: “You can do the maths – most of the budget is staffing.”

Heather Donoyou, head of the centre, said: “When we became a school the local authority promised us that this budget would be sustained and now they are threatening to take away 56 per cent of our funding which will have huge implications on what we can offer to local people.”

Parent governor Joanne Armstrong said: “At a time when people have no money to spend and are worried and frightened about their future they are looking to children’s centres for lots of positive support, they need somewhere warm and welcoming like Pen Green, somewhere where there will always be someone to offer support when they are at their lowest.”

No-one from the Schools Forum was available for comment yesterday.