The owners of Barney’s Play in Uckfield are making a desperate bid to save their business which has been closed and without income for 145 days due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
There is still no indication from the Government about when soft play centres can open again. Asa and Louise Jago are finding it difficult to keep going without some hope of a date.
Louise told Uckfield News: “It’s so frustrating to not have any timeline or support and still be paying all our overheads and full rent.
“It’s been 145 days without income and we are expected to survive on loans and overdrafts to stay closed whilst other businesses can trade and take advantage of the great incentives being put in place to help them.
“We unfortunately can’t take advantage of the 5% VAT, eat out scheme. We are doing everything we can just to hold on.
“When do you get to a point when you say enough to the accruing debt and pack it in? We are determined to fight on, I’m not a quitter, but it’s exhausting and such a drain on us ,emotionally, physically and financially, as a family.
The couple have lobbied Wealden MP Nus Ghani, and signed and promoted a petition appealing for extra financial support from the Government for closed soft play centres and so far nothing has worked.
Now the couple have launched a Crowdfunding appeal Save Our Softplay – Barney’s SOS in the hope that people will pledge donations in return for rewards which will be redeemed when the centre reopens.
Rewards include an annual pass for one child and one adult if £100 is pledged, two hot drinks if £5 is pledged and one main meal and one hot drink if £10 is pledged.
There are other rewards too for pledges of £25 and £50, a meal for a family of four, and 50% off a party booking respectively.
Louise says Barneys has always taken great pride in its cleanliness, operating to a very high standard over the past eight years and has already increased its safety and hygiene measures, to levels far and above the Government guidelines, ready for reopening.
She adds: “We feel, as a local family business, forgotten about and worthless. Despite the benefits we bring to our communities and children we have been cast aside by our Government.
“We are pleased to be a place that children play safely, where they exercise in disguise and have adventures, where they develop social and cognitive skills.
“Did you know that one hour of indoor play can burn 150 calories and 16.6g of fat?
“There are so many hidden benefits of our play area that many many not be aware of:
- Exercise – meets Government’s daily recommendations
- Mental health – play has never been so important
- Cognitive development – that is your child’s ability to think, understand, communicate, remember, imagine, and work out what might happen next
- Aids coordination and proven to assist children with motor skills disorder (DCD).
- Valuable resource for children with SEN
- Social skills – learning how to interact and communicate with other children
- A place for loneliness to be tackled, and where parents can meet friends and seek support
- A safe space for those in domestic abuse situations.
“We are asking for our community’s support to weather through this.
“We understand you may not be in a position to contribute and this pandemic has sadly impacted so many people. If you cannot contribute please do sign and share the petition for our industry to seek financial support from central government. If you can contribute even the smallest amount will be welcomed.
“A massive thank you to those that have contributed already, we really do appreciate it.
“Thank you for reading this, I hope that you can help our family, our staff, their families and our business survive this pandemic ; so we can continue to be the joyful community play centre.”
To support Barney’s Play please visit the crowdfunding page here.
The petition calling for extra financial support for closed soft play centres can be found here.