A COMMUNITY project which encourages children to enjoy outdoor adventures is being forced to close due to funding running out.
Groundwork North East’s Play Rangers have worked for the past year with three to 19-year-olds in Seaham, getting them involved in free activities in parks and open spaces, building confidence and making friends.
But youngsters and parents have been left upset by the news the scheme will stop after the summer holidays after its funding ended.
Emma Bishop, of Play Rangers, said: “The project aimed to provide outdoor play experiences for the children and encourage them to be adventurous.
“It’s all free access, so there’s no charges and children could come whenever they wanted to.
“We received funding for one year, which would have ended back in May, but with underspending we managed to extend it until after the summer.”
She added: “The team has done really well and we would love to see it carry on.
“I think the parents and staff are all really gutted that we have to stop.”
Julie Scurfield, Children’s Trust manager with Durham County Council, said: “A grant was secured from the Big Lottery Fund, which the Local Children’s Board in Easington agreed would be used to provide a play ranger service in Easington.
“These rangers did a sterling job taking play opportunities to children across the area.
“Naturally we are disappointed that this fund has now run out.
“Should similar funding opportunities become available at any point in the future, we would want to continue to support families in the area in the provision of opportunities that encourage children to play and learn in safe environments.”
The evening sessions, run in a variety of locations and with help from many volunteers and parents as well as the staff, included arts and crafts, campfire building and other outdoor activities. Michelle Garthwaite, a Seaham mum with two seven-year-old children who attend Play Rangers, said: “It’s such a shame because they do such good for the children and so much good for the community.
“The kids build up all sorts of skills. They have a whale of a time there and they’re all going to be so sad when it ends.”
Mrs Garthwaite added: “My son used to be really shy, but they’ve really built up his confidence and he’s come out of his shell now that he’s got new social skills.”