COMMUNITY playgroup staff have been left angry and shocked after a children’s outdoor area was completely trashed.
Kelsterton Playgroup, based in the grounds of Connah’s Quay High School, has been the repeated target of “senseless and mindless” vandalism over the last three weeks.
The vandals, who are believed to be school age, have been gaining access to the outdoor garden area by climbing on the roof and have caused complete chaos, meaning the toddlers haven’t even been able to go outside to play.
Pictures by Rick Matthews / NWN Media
It is estimated that more than £1,000 worth of damage has been caused, with significant damage to their sensory shed for children with special needs and the shed they keep all the toddlers play equipment in.
The children’s toys have also been strewn all over the lawn and rubbish has been left lying around.
Carla Williams, playgroup assistant, said that they are “absolutely sick to death” with the mindless acts of vandalism.
“Everything has been left utterly trashed,” she said.
“Our big shed with all our outdoor stuff in, a few weeks ago, it looks like they’ve jumped off the playgroup roof on to the shed and absolutely caved the roof in.
“The damage just keeps getting worse and worse.
“Also our sensory shed has also been kicked in last night – it’s just trashed.
“This is used for our children who have special needs and is completely dark inside, but they have ripped open the double doors and they are split right down the middle.
“It’s very sad to see.”
Carla said that they just don’t know how to stop the youths gaining access to the garden.
“The police have suggested using special DNA paint but we have said no because it could get on the children’s clothes.
“We can’t put barbed wire up for obvious reasons, so what can we do?”
The garden was also vandalised last summer and Carla told the Leader how community service people had helped to restore the area, but she is “disappointed” it’s happened again.
“I’m completely fuming and it’s so disappointing to see this sort of thing happen,” she said.
“A lot of these children came to the playgroup as kids and it’s just disappointing to see this thoughtless damage being caused.”
Since the vandalism started about three weeks ago, Carla said that they haven’t been able to take the children out to play in the garden because of the hazards the damage could cause.
“It just means we can’t take the children out as it’s too dangerous,” Carla added.
The vandals have also been using a bench to climb back on to the roof which has blocked the fire exit to the playgroup.
Karen Dix, supervisor at the playgroup, said: “This has caused problems because it means we haven’t been able to use the fire exit properly and we’ve had to try and wriggle out of the door to try and move the bench.
“It’s so bad that we’ve been having to keep the children inside, but outdoor play is supposed to be part of the curriculum.
“I’m also concerned about the vandals themselves as we think they are only of high school age – what if they fell off the roof?”
Karen said that they will now have to fundraise to get the money for the repairs.
“Our sensory shed was about £350 and the big shed was about £650, and along with all the other damage its going to cost about £1,000 to repair which we just don’t have as we are a community funded playgroup.
“We’ve had lots of comments on Facebook from people offering toys, but the bigger things we can’t afford as we are a charity and have to pay for rent and new equipment as it is.
“Kids just don’t realise how much things cost and just think it’s funny, but it’s not. They’d be happy to spend about £80 on a pair of trainers though,” Karen added.