‘We don’t know what we’re going to do’ – parents and staff at a loss as Sunderland nursery closes

Staff children, toddlers and parents gather outside the North Hylton Road Campus after being told the Blue Square Nursery is set to close.
Staff children, toddlers and parents gather outside the North Hylton Road Campus after being told the Blue Square Nursery is set to close.
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PARENTS and staff have been left devastated after they were told a nursery would be closing.

Staff at the Blue Square Nursery in Sunderland received the shock news after employer the Bridge Project announced it was to fold.

Staff children, toddlers and parents gather outside the North Hylton Road Campus after being told the Blue Square Nursery is set to close.'Pictured are deputy manager Sue Mason and manager Anne Judd.

Staff children, toddlers and parents gather outside the North Hylton Road Campus after being told the Blue Square Nursery is set to close.'Pictured are deputy manager Sue Mason and manager Anne Judd.

The nursery, based at Sunderland College’s Hylton Campus, provides care for around 30 children aged from birth to five, as well as an after-school club.

Deputy manager Susan Mason said she could not understand the decision, as she believed the nursery was making a profit and was confident it would be kept on at the college.

The 51-year-old, from Roker, said: “We have plenty of people on the books, so we are not running at a loss.

“At the moment we have got about 30 children, but there are more coming back in September.”

The closure tomorrow will result in nine people losing their jobs - including two full-time workers.

“The parents were absolutely disgusted. It gives them a week to find childcare,” Susan said.

“We’ve not had a pay rise for four years, but we were not interested, as we were quite happy on the money we got.”

Mum-of-two Michelle Jones sent both of her children to Blue Square Nursery.

Alfie, aged two, started there in January, about eight years after old brother Jude.

Michelle, 39, from Teal Farm, works as an accountant in Newcastle and is having to take time off work to re-arrange child care.

“It is so short notice, because it is not something you can do lightly,” she said.

“You have to visit the place and make sure the staff are what you expect them to be. It is not like buying a car.

“We have to give the nursery four weeks’ notice if we want to leave, but basically the college are giving us a week.

“I really don’t know what I am going to do.”

Nigel Harrett, acting principal of Sunderland College, said: “Bridge is an independent organisation which has operated a nursery from Sunderland College’s facilities at the Hylton campus for nine years.

“We were informed earlier this summer that sadly Bridge had been put into administration. Initially the administrators wanted to close the nursery in July.

“However, Sunderland College worked with the administrators to ensure that it stayed open for as long as possible and continued to provide our students with access to this facility.

“During this time all staff who worked at the nursery remained employed by Bridge and not by Sunderland College.

“This period of time has now come to an end and it is unfortunate that the administrators have decided to continue with their plans to close Bridge’s nursery at Hylton, and that it will close on August 31.

“We understand that it is an upsetting time for the staff at Bridge, but the decisions now lie in the hands of their administrators.

“The Hylton nursery provided childcare for around 15 of the college’s students. Across all our campuses around 90 students access our childcare provision.

Sunderland College will continue to provide childcare support for all its students as it currently does across all sites, including Hylton.”

Twitter: @janethejourno

More than 100 staff and seasonal workers were made redundant after Sunderland’s Bridge Project was put into administration.

Set up by a small band of female volunteers in 1985, the project provided education and training opportunities for women across the area, all supported by free childcare.

The charity grew into a vibrant voluntary organisation, run by women, for women, with staff across its four centres across Washington and Durham.

It managed to form links with Sunderland College and also received funding from groups including the Big Lottery Fund, Durham and Sunderland councils, the NHS and the University of Sunderland during its 26-year history.