5 September 2019
For around 30 years, the St Andrew’s Church Stepping Stones Committee has been overseeing the running of 3 wonderful groups for young families. Baby Club, Toddlers and Playgroup have always has been a wonderful place for children to learn and to grow. Over that time, thousands of children have attended these groups along with their parents! We are immensely grateful to all the hundreds of volunteers and many staff who have made this possible. Many of us have the fondest memories of Playgroup, as a child or as a parent.
Much has changed over these years, especially in the sphere of playgroups, with the additional demands of Ofsted(which the staff have met very well) and the changing demographic of families. These have lead to falling numbers of children attending. At the same time, the number of people serving on the Stepping Stones Committee has also fallen steadily to a point where we are stretched beyond capacity. As Playgroup has adjusted to these issues, it has gradually departed from its core mission to be a stepping stone to faith in Jesus Christ. We have also come to the conclusion that the business model is no longer sustainable, especially given the needs of parents and the national situation for pre-school funding.
For the past year, the Stepping Stones Committee has thought and prayed and sought to find a way forward for Playgroup and for Stepping Stones as a whole that will best use the people that we have to fulfil our core mission. This has been an incredibly challenging process. The committee has come to the very difficult decision that Playgroup should come to an end in July 2020. Based on this recommendation, the St Andrew’s Parochial Church Council confirmed their agreement with this decision. We plan to run Playgroup as normal until July 2020.
In contrast, Baby Club and Toddlers on Tuesdays and Fridays are both thriving and so we will be turning our focus towards these younger groups and will reimagine how we can best serve young families in our village whilst enabling the real possibility of them being Stepping Stones to Christian faith.
Whilst there is much sadness and heartache surrounding the closing of a wonderful chapter, we look forward to what God might enable to us to do in coming years and we are grateful to all those staff and parents who have supported Stepping Stones over the years. Thank you.
Chair of Stepping Stones