Community urged to rally together to save much-loved play cafe in Fareham from closure

A DESPERATE plea has gone out for people to rally together and save a much-loved play cafe.

Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 10:07 am

A GoFundMe page is raising money for Sweet Peas Play Cafe, which has children’s play areas, role play stations, a baby sensory room and a cafe, in West Street, Fareham.

The cafe opened in December 2018 and is run by Claire White, from Gosport.

It provides fun sessions for children from birth up to about eight years old, as well as providing a place for parents to meet and gain support.

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Claire White, owner of Sweet Peas Play Cafe

Claire said that months of closure earlier this year due to lockdown, followed by changes in how the centre can operate brought about by Covid-19 regulations, have seriously damaged the business.

The second lockdown, which saw the cafe's play areas and indoor seating close again, has left the centre’s future hanging in the balance.

Claire, 35, said: ‘Despite all the support since the previous lockdown was lifted I do not think the play cafe will survive and we need your help.

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Claire White, owner of Sweet Peas Play Cafe

‘I am not normally one for asking and I’m a very strong person, who hates that it has come to this to keep a brilliant family business where kids can let loose.

‘Without any income or government support I will not be able to pay the rent for the cafe and our lovely little kids’ haven will have to close permanently.

‘I would be heartened if anyone could spare anything they can to keep us afloat.

‘In return you will be gifted with an envelope which will range from free entry, free cake or free coffees and teas when we can open up again.

Sweet Peas Play Cafe in West Street, Fareham. Picture: Sarah Standing (121120-8310)

‘If you can help in any way, please do.’

Claire set up the business with her mother Pamela Lawrence, 57, who travelled from North Wales every weekend to work at the centre.

However different lockdown rules have made this difficult, and have left Claire without her biggest supporter.

Claire, who is mum to four-year-old Florie, said that she was eligible for the initial £10,000 coronavirus grant, but this only covered a few weeks worth of rent and bills.

Claire White, owner of Sweet Peas Play Cafe

Since that money dried up, she has been relying on credit cards to get through – but does not know how much longer this can continue.

She said: ‘To keep a roof over my head I’ve been relying on credit cards – it's no way to live but I literally have no other option.’

Claire has plans to improve the cafe, buying new equipment, upgrading existing toys, and also buying and installing a shed that parents can use to store their pushchairs in outside, however these have all been shelved until funds can be raised.

She said: ‘If anyone can help, then I would be eternally grateful.

‘There have been so many changes that we have had to make to keep up with Covid regulations, it has been tough.

‘I know that our centre means so much to the children and parents who come here, it would break my heart to have to close it.

‘It would be a massive blow not only to me, and my family, but to the whole community. There is nothing else like it in Fareham.’

To donate to the fundraising appeal, which has raised £695 so far, go to gf.me/u/y7jbw6

For more information go to facebook.com/Sweetpeasplaycafe179a

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