'Fantastic' village pre-school launches fundraising drive

Fairhaven Pre-School shares reality of coping with cost of living

Children at Fairhaven Pre-School say thank you to businesses and supporters who have helped their fundraising efforts by donating prizes. - Credit: Fairhaven Pre-school

A village pre-school has said the cost of living crisis could force it to close in “three or four years” - as it reaches out for community support.

Fairhaven Pre-School in South Walsham says a combination of Covid, the cost of living, and a minimum wage rise are pushing it closer to the brink.

Chair Nikki Evans said the "dismal" rate paid by the Government for funded hours was adding to its difficulties as it joins with the primary school for a fundraising Jubilee extravaganza and fete in the village on Friday (May 27), spearheading a fundraising push.

Fairhaven Pre-School opens up about cost of living crisis

Children at Fairhaven Pre-School preparing for their Jubilee fete on Friday May 27 when they will join forces with the primary school for the first time. - Credit: Fairhaven Pre-School

The 38-year-old, who works full time as a police officer, said the pre-school - which is a charity operating from the village hall - had also faced a rent rise.

"It is a fantastic facility," she said.

"It is very hands on. They have pet butterflies at the moment and a garden and they do baking.

"But there is less coming in and more going out. Wages have gone up, resources have gone up.

"Last year we lost £5,000.

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"If we cannot turn it around we have three to four years left.

South Walsham pre-school sponsored walk

A fancy dress sponsored walk around South Walsham is among fundraising initiatives like coffee mornings and raffles which are needed more than ever to fill a funding gap created by the cost of living crisis. - Credit: Fairhaven pre school

"It is a massive responsibility."

The pre-school employs five staff including a manager and a deputy and has been established for 13 years.

Currently there are some 30 children on the roll, with some capacity for more.

Mrs Evans, who took over as chair at the beginning of the academic year, said one of the issues had been education with parents and community mostly unaware of the setting's charity status.

As it was committee volunteers, most of whom had full time jobs and were parents themselves, were having to essentially run a business and fundraise to generate top-up funds to keep it afloat.

She said many charity pre-schools would be in the same situation and that anyone sitting on a community committee would likely be facing the same challenges.

The pre-school draws children from South Walsham and all its surrounding villages and is described as "a massive part of the community."

Friday's Jubilee fete will see stalls, games, local crafters and a children's author pitching in to bring the village together and kick-start a fundraising and awareness drive to boost the pre-school.

It starts at 3.30pm and follows a day of celebration at both schools.