Fears for toy library service as budget axe looms

Toy Library Manager Pam McCune and her team at the threatened service in Northam.

Toy Library Manager Pam McCune and her team at the threatened service in Northam.

First published in News
Last updated

IT STARTED off in a cupboard 39 years ago and since then has given some of the most disadvantaged children in Southampton what many other youngsters take for granted.

The Toy Library Service has been providing toys to thousands of city children who otherwise wouldn’t enjoy what should be a fundamental part of childhood.

But now the organisation fears it may not make its 40th anniversary after funding was pulled by the city council in what has been described as “a slap in the face” by volunteers and staff.

The Toy Library, which last year loaned out over 12,000 toys, is run by Community Playlink, which also supports a number of toddler groups in the city.

Despite bracing themselves for a cut in their budget as part of widespread funding cuts, nothing prepared the registered charity for the announcement that virtually all of their money would be withdrawn.

Manager of the organisation Pam McCune said: “We have been essentially left with enough money to physically keep an office open, but no money at all to provide the services or pay staff to run them. We basically could not afford to keep going.”

It costs £80,000 a year to run all the services provided by Community Playlink, with about £52,000 provided by Southampton City Council and the rest from the team’s own fundraising.

As previously reported by the Daily Echo, although some youth services have been given a reprieve, it appears the cuts to the Community Playlink service funding are set to go ahead.

That is despite an unexpected £5.8m Government windfall that has led to £1m being set aside for changes to social services, £500,000 earmarked to offset any future reduction of Government funding and a decision to keep the £40,000 mayoral car.

Pam said: “It does strike me that they have got their priorities a bit wrong. We need this money now, anything at all would help. I know cuts need to be made but I am sure they could find something.

After all we have done over the years it feels like a slap in the face.”

Cost-cutting over the years has included staff taking home the rubbish so they don’t have to pay for waste disposal services and mending and repairing toys in their own time.

Meanwhile Pam and her team of toy librarians, a finance administrator and toddler support worker – who risk losing their jobs – are being forced to work in a leaking office on Northam Road with half a dozen buckets scattered over the floor while they wait for months for the council to repair the roof.

Pam said: “We don’t feel like we are being treated very fairly, the council as our landlord is aware of the conditions we are working in, but we still are prepared to work here because of the importance of what we do.

“I just don’t know how we can be any more efficient. I do not believe that the council fully understands what services we provide and how we underpin so much of what happens in the city in terms of toddler groups and pre schools.

“The Toy Library Service particularly would be a huge loss as so much emphasis is put on learning through play but certainly in recent financial hard times that is getting less affordable for parents and playgroups.”

The council are due to make the final decision on a proposed £20m of cuts on February 13.

Councillor Sarah Bogle explained that no final decision had yet been made, but the authority was having to make “very difficult decisions” in the face of a reduced settlement from the Government and that money had to be prioritised, particularly when dealing with services for vulnerable people.

She said: “It is not as straightforward to allocate money to and from different areas of the council’s budget.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we are safeguarding a group for a year but then pulling the funding the next. We need to look at how we can deliver services and fund organisations in a sustainable way.”

Comments (9)

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8:55am Sat 9 Feb 13

FoysCornerBoy says...

This is very sad news, indeed. However, I think the news item misrepresents the situation as Community Playlink are being recommended for a grant of £28,000 where they asked for £40,000.

Many other voluntary organisations in Southampton are receiving a nil grant.

I wonder if groups like Community Playlink might think about how they can work with other similar groups in order to save costs on things like premises (e.g. through sharing).

Whilst I would prefer it if more rather than less was spent on the City's voluntary sector, there is a need for an allocation system which ensures that what money is available is fairly distributed.
This is very sad news, indeed. However, I think the news item misrepresents the situation as Community Playlink are being recommended for a grant of £28,000 where they asked for £40,000. Many other voluntary organisations in Southampton are receiving a nil grant. I wonder if groups like Community Playlink might think about how they can work with other similar groups in order to save costs on things like premises (e.g. through sharing). Whilst I would prefer it if more rather than less was spent on the City's voluntary sector, there is a need for an allocation system which ensures that what money is available is fairly distributed. FoysCornerBoy
  • Score: 0

9:41am Sat 9 Feb 13

loosehead says...

maybe they could link up with a local church & store & run it from the church?
I know Shirley Baptist has a large store room ?
maybe they could link up with a local church & store & run it from the church? I know Shirley Baptist has a large store room ? loosehead
  • Score: 0

12:29pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Yorkyboy22 says...

Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick!
I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy!
I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards!
Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!!
Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick! I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy! I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards! Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!! Yorkyboy22
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Sat 9 Feb 13

loosehead says...

Yorkyboy22 wrote:
Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick!
I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy!
I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards!
Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!!
How old are you?
No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need.
we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it.
I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys?
Why does every one expect the Government to do it?
[quote][p][bold]Yorkyboy22[/bold] wrote: Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick! I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy! I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards! Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!![/p][/quote]How old are you? No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need. we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it. I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys? Why does every one expect the Government to do it? loosehead
  • Score: 0

2:30pm Sat 9 Feb 13

Yorkyboy22 says...

loosehead wrote:
Yorkyboy22 wrote:
Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick!
I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy!
I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards!
Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!!
How old are you?
No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need.
we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it.
I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys?
Why does every one expect the Government to do it?
As it happens 52. What has that got to do with the price of eggs? I'm sorry there were no SureStarts when you were young, there were none for me either. Perhaps society had moved on. These people are providing a valued service in a centralised place. I'm not convinced leaving bags of toys in churches is a good idea. Have you not read any reports in the papers about child abuse by the clergy?
I stand by my comments and still believe that Dodgy Dave and his chums with their cuts are hitting the most vulnerable. Perhaps if the richest, be it companies or individuals, payed their taxes we might have enough left over so that poor children didn't need to miss out!!
[quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Yorkyboy22[/bold] wrote: Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick! I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy! I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards! Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!![/p][/quote]How old are you? No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need. we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it. I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys? Why does every one expect the Government to do it?[/p][/quote]As it happens 52. What has that got to do with the price of eggs? I'm sorry there were no SureStarts when you were young, there were none for me either. Perhaps society had moved on. These people are providing a valued service in a centralised place. I'm not convinced leaving bags of toys in churches is a good idea. Have you not read any reports in the papers about child abuse by the clergy? I stand by my comments and still believe that Dodgy Dave and his chums with their cuts are hitting the most vulnerable. Perhaps if the richest, be it companies or individuals, payed their taxes we might have enough left over so that poor children didn't need to miss out!! Yorkyboy22
  • Score: 0

7:05pm Sat 9 Feb 13

MegGriffin says...

loosehead wrote:
Yorkyboy22 wrote:
Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick!
I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy!
I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards!
Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!!
How old are you?
No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need.
we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it.
I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys?
Why does every one expect the Government to do it?
So just because you didn't have it, nobody else should?
[quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Yorkyboy22[/bold] wrote: Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick! I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy! I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards! Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!![/p][/quote]How old are you? No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need. we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it. I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys? Why does every one expect the Government to do it?[/p][/quote]So just because you didn't have it, nobody else should? MegGriffin
  • Score: 0

7:22pm Sat 9 Feb 13

loosehead says...

Yorkyboy22 wrote:
loosehead wrote:
Yorkyboy22 wrote:
Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick!
I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy!
I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards!
Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!!
How old are you?
No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need.
we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it.
I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys?
Why does every one expect the Government to do it?
As it happens 52. What has that got to do with the price of eggs? I'm sorry there were no SureStarts when you were young, there were none for me either. Perhaps society had moved on. These people are providing a valued service in a centralised place. I'm not convinced leaving bags of toys in churches is a good idea. Have you not read any reports in the papers about child abuse by the clergy?
I stand by my comments and still believe that Dodgy Dave and his chums with their cuts are hitting the most vulnerable. Perhaps if the richest, be it companies or individuals, payed their taxes we might have enough left over so that poor children didn't need to miss out!!
Haven't you read the reports on every walk of live there are perverts to single out just the clergy is wrong as I don't hear any complaints against them when they run Basic Food banks or soup kitchens ?
[quote][p][bold]Yorkyboy22[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Yorkyboy22[/bold] wrote: Still at least we are all in it together Dave & Nick! I remember how those under privileged kids crashed the Economy! I reckon they should close a few more facilities such as those Surestart Nurseries, waste of money! ....what?...they have! .... Bar Stewards! Hope you remember this when the time comes in Eastleigh!![/p][/quote]How old are you? No such thing as toy library's or Surestart when I was young & no need. we were told just because your friends have got it doesn't mean you have to have it. I've seen bags of toys dumped why not talk to local churches that have storage rooms & let it be known that instead of chucking unwanted toys they can take them to the churches & if a family can't afford to buy they can go to the church to either borrow toys or even just take the toys? Why does every one expect the Government to do it?[/p][/quote]As it happens 52. What has that got to do with the price of eggs? I'm sorry there were no SureStarts when you were young, there were none for me either. Perhaps society had moved on. These people are providing a valued service in a centralised place. I'm not convinced leaving bags of toys in churches is a good idea. Have you not read any reports in the papers about child abuse by the clergy? I stand by my comments and still believe that Dodgy Dave and his chums with their cuts are hitting the most vulnerable. Perhaps if the richest, be it companies or individuals, payed their taxes we might have enough left over so that poor children didn't need to miss out!![/p][/quote]Haven't you read the reports on every walk of live there are perverts to single out just the clergy is wrong as I don't hear any complaints against them when they run Basic Food banks or soup kitchens ? loosehead
  • Score: 0

7:24pm Sat 9 Feb 13

loosehead says...

It use to be if you can't afford children you didn't have them until you saved up or could afford them but now you just have them & expect every one else to pay for them why?
Why should I who can't have kids pay for other people's kids?
It use to be if you can't afford children you didn't have them until you saved up or could afford them but now you just have them & expect every one else to pay for them why? Why should I who can't have kids pay for other people's kids? loosehead
  • Score: 0

8:56pm Sat 9 Feb 13

TurquoiseJ says...

I have fond memories of the toy library, in the late 70s and early 80s when it was in Burgess Road library. I remember borrowing sooty and sweep several times.
I have fond memories of the toy library, in the late 70s and early 80s when it was in Burgess Road library. I remember borrowing sooty and sweep several times. TurquoiseJ
  • Score: 0

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