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Parents thrilled by park café reopening

‘Lifeline’ returns after funding cuts forced closure of Paradise Park Community Café

26 May, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Mothers – including Vita Moltedo, Selma Seyhan, Stephanie Charalambous and Roxy Erickson – met councillors on Monday

PARENTS have spoken of their joy after it was announced a park café that was a “lifeline” for mothers suffering from ­dep­ression, violence and bereavement is to reopen in June.

Paradise Park Community Café in Mackenzie Road closed on April 28 after Islington Play Association (IPA), the charity that runs it, was hit by funding cuts. But IPA pledged to reopen the café with reduced hours after parents agreed to volunteer in the kitchen.

One Holloway parent, Chloe Hadjimatheou, 42, who regularly visited the café with her two children said: “It’s a small victory, but so, so important. We didn’t want the café to close for too long as it might never have reopened.”

She added: “There’s a lady who works there who is like an outreach worker, she works with vulnerable parents. She’s amazing at spotting people in need, pointing them to the right services. She’s what we wanted to keep in place, not just the café.”

The new opening hours will see the café open on Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Six parents who use the café and other children’s services in Paradise Park met councillors last Monday to discuss the future of the children’s facilities in the park.

Ms Hadjimatheou said Councillor Joe Caluori, executive member for children, young people and families, expressed a wish to help but did not guarantee the council would fund the café.

IPA’s chief executive Anita Grant said the reopening was great news. “We never wanted to reduce our services for local people. We’re struggling like everybody with funding. We’re really were proud to hear how much parents valued what we were doing,” she said.

IPA also run the children’s centre and nursery on the site described by Ofsted as “very well led and managed”, in their latest report.

According to Ms Grant, the Town Hall is opening bids for the nursery’s management and the IPA may no longer be running it if their bid is unsuccessful.

The council confirmed they have opened bids for taking over services at Paradise Park as they are legally bound to do so after a contract ends.

A new contract will be awarded in October.

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