POP Essex offered Argos building after replacing Parc (Essex)

Jamey and Matt Carr
Jamey and Matt Carr set up POP Essex in response to the closure of Parc (Essex) in June 2022

A playgroup for children with complex needs has been offered a permanent home after almost two years of uncertainty.

POP Essex was set up by parents after Parc (Essex), which cared for the children, closed its building at Great Notley Country Park in June 2022.

About 140 families whose children were supported by Parc (Essex) were left in the lurch, with POP bridging the gap from a temporary base in Braintree.

The latter has now been offered space at the town's former Argos shop.

'Challenging'

Matt Carr, POP's chair of trustees, said the new venue would offer a safe space for the youngsters to play once kitted out.

The 40-year-old, whose son Dominic has "severe" additional needs, said the project would take "significant work, time and fundraising" but that he hoped it would be open by the Easter school break.

"All we want is to help the families because they need it, I know from my own experience," Mr Carr, who leads the charity with his wife, Jamey, said.

"We know what a lot of parents and carers are going through on a daily basis.

"It is difficult, it is hard work, it is challenging - but it's not the children's fault, it's the way they were built."

Exterior of the Parc building which is now badly overgrown
The purpose-built Parc site is now overgrown following its closure in June 2022

The charity had hosted its weekly play sessions out of the Braintree District Mencap building, on Coggeshall Road, before it was offered the Argos property in Braintree town centre.

It followed an unsuccessful bid to take over the vacant Parc (Essex) building, which is owned by Braintree District Council.

Parc (Essex) closed without notice in June 2022 after at least £64,000 could not be accounted for.

Trustees of the charity had said they were hopeful of resolving the situation.


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