A PRE-SCHOOL which has served Fishponds families for nearly 50 years is looking for a new “forever home”.
St Joseph’s Pre-school has been given notice by the Diocese of Clifton to leave its base at St Joseph’s Church Hall in Forest Road next summer, as the diocese wants to refurbish the building.
It means the pre-school needs to find another venue where it can operate, within walking distance of the families it serves, in time for the next academic year.
The pre-school, which is community-run via a volunteer committee on a charitable basis, has launched a fundraising campaign to raise £20,000 towards the cost of buying or renovating a new venue.
Centre manager Cathy Williamson said: “We’re looking for our forever home.
“We need to find somewhere within walking distance of the two schools we feed into, St Joseph’s and Chester Park.
“In this area there isn’t another community-run group close to those schools.”
The pre-school is currently “full to capacity”, with almost 70 children aged between two and four on its roll; up to 42 attend each session.
The government is promising to fund 15 hours of childcare per week for working parents of two-year-old children from next year, which will further increase demand.
Cathy said: “We’re hoping if we get the move that we can expand our provision for two year olds, because that’s what’s needed.”
The pre-school needs a 130 sq m space, with at least four toilets, an office and storage space, with a kitchen and outdoor area for children to play in, and Cathy has already started searching for somewhere suitable.
The ideal new home would be a place where the pre-school does not need to pack away all of its equipment, as it does at its current home.
Generations of Fishponds children have started their learning at St Joseph’s Pre-school.
It first opened in 1975 and Cathy, whose mum Eileen Densley helped to set it up, has been working there for 30 years.
Cathy said: “A lot of children’s lives have started here – we’ve had the children of children coming through.
“Families depend on us and there a 17 staff with jobs here, so closing isn’t an option.
“I’ve poured the last 30 years of my life into it – I’m not just going to let it stop.”
Anyone who thinks they know of a venue the pre-school could move to should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 914 7173.
Donations to the pre-school’s fundraising campaign can be made at tinyurl.com/yc6zkzhy.
Picture: Staff members Karon Attwood, Cathy Williamson, Joanne Duffy and Amanda Liddington with children from St Joseph’s pre-school.