The leader of a Drumsurn playgroup has vowed to fight Department of Education funding cuts to early years provision she claims would be “devastating” for the community.
Marie McCutcheon of ‘Little Rascals’, which started almost 30 years ago, said the group has secured funding for a new build to incorporate the community into their work and provide more services for local people but, with the threat to 70 per cent of two staff wages, that is in doubt.
“This area has nothing - no transport, no jobs. For a lot of people this group is the focal point of their day,” said Ms McCutcheon. “If this money is taken away it’ll be devastating. If they take the playgroup away - and funding away from the Youth Club and Parent and Toddler group - there will be nothing left in Drumsurn.”
The group is registered for 24 places and operates five mornings a week. With many young families and new residents in the area, Ms McCutcheon said there is a demand and need for the playgroup.
“We are not going to talk about redundancies or about people losing their jobs. We’ve always been a needs orientated organisation, and we will fight tooth and nail to keep this DE funding in place,” said Ms McCutcheon. “We’re very determined because we didn’t get this far by lying down, and if Minister O’Dowd would like to come and walk in our footsteps for a day to see how determined we are, and how much work we put in, he is more than welcome because at the minute I don’t think he fully understands the impact it will have on the families and the community. It’s a terrifying time. The Minister needs to rethink these cuts.”
Ms McCutcheon added: “Our service gives children the best educational start in their life. This is a lifeline. I don’t understand the minister’s logic on this. There’s a fighting spirit in Drumsurn. We won’t give up.”