The founder of an inclusive soft play centre has spoken of the challenges it faces during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Charity BECS (Because Everyone Counts) built the facility at Burghmuir Circle in Inverurie.
It took two years of fundraising for BECS and sourcing specialised play equipment to get the centre ready for opening in 2019.
Creating the facility took longer than planned and the centre was paying rent on its premises for 14 months before it finally opened.
Now, founder Becky Mennie has told how the Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for the centre.
She said: “After our funding plea in November things really picked up which was great.
“We started to get really busy and we had lots of private bookings and other charities were using our facilities.
“It got to the point on many occasions that we had to tell people we were fully booked.
“When Covid-19 came along it was really bad timing. We had literally just kicked off and everything had to shut.”
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Despite the centre’s closure, Becky decided to start delivering food and activity packs in a bid to ensure children in the north-east still had the chance to play.
She added: “At the beginning of lockdown I felt that everything was centred around food and looking out for older people.
“I decided to focus on children, so I started making up breakfast, lunch and activity packs.
“The activity packs are for everybody, whether they were used as indoor toys, arts and crafts or for sensory play.
“I’ve donated about 90 packs. B&M in Kittybrewster were great and gave us some funds to support that and to be able to make them.
“We still have some available for anybody who needs them. We’ve had people get back in touch and ask if there was any chance of getting more.
“When you’ve got kids, you can’t just nip to the shop every five minutes and children do get bored more easily.”
Becky hopes to see the centre reopen in the coming months if the Scottish Government allows it.
She added: “If we can open up in the summer holidays, even if it’s just for additional needs families, that would be good.
“We’ve spoken to Just Enterprise and we’re in the process of applying for the Third Sector Resilience Fund.
“We’ve been having to pay just under £3,000 every month in rent without generating income which has had a big impact.
“But our customers have been fantastic and there’s still a lot of people emailing and phoning to ask when we’ll be reopening so everybody is eager to come back.”