Venue loss forces lifeline community group to close

Child playing with wooden toys as Stevenage Cheeky Cherubs Baby and Toddler Group announces closure

Stevenage Cheeky Cherubs Baby and Toddler Group has permanently shut down after losing its venue - Credit: Pexels

Volunteers who run a baby and toddler group that has provided a lifeline to many families over nearly two decades say they have been forced to permanently close the group due to a loss of venue.

Cheeky Cherubs Baby and Toddler Group began in St Hugh and St John's Church in Stevenage almost 18 years ago, before outgrowing the venue and moving to Chells Pavilion in Gresley Way. 

Now, Stevenage Borough Council wants to let the property on a long lease, forcing Cheeky Cherubs and other groups who use the pavilion to find a new home. 

Karlie Day, one of the parent volunteers behind Cheeky Cherubs, says fruitless efforts to find a suitable alternative venue over the past few weeks have led to the difficult decision to close the group.

In a statement on Cheeky Cherub's Facebook page, it says: "It is with the most heaviest of hearts that we have to announce the closure of Cheeky Cherubs Baby and Toddler Group with immediate effect. 
"We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into running the group - all of us volunteers - and we're really saddened we have to close.

"We have tried to source an alternative venue, but to no avail.

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"We cannot thank you enough for all the support we have been given throughout our time running the group. It's truly appreciated.

"There was never a dull moment at our group. We had really great sessions and made life-long friends along the way."

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One service user said: "The group not only provided for the children, it provided sanity and support for all the parents who attended."

Another added: "It will be a big loss for the young families of Stevenage."

With a looming deadline to vacate Chells Pavilion, all Cheeky Cherubs' resources - including toys, highchairs and even Christmas trees - were put up for sale outside Chells Pavilion on Saturday. All proceeds are set to be donated to children's charities in Stevenage, with any unsold items given to The Living Room charity shop in The Glebe.

A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: "Chells Pavilion is not for sale, but we are looking to let the premises. The property has been underused for a number of years and the council is looking at how we can use our portfolio of properties to its full potential."

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