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Playgroup partners . . . English Language Partners Aoraki manager Susan Henderson (left) and Aoraki Migrant Centre support manager Katy Houstoun will join representatives from Plunket in hosting a migrant playgroup. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

A trio of Timaru community organisations are set to restart a migrant playgroup in the town.

The playgroup will start at 10am next Thursday, August 15, and will be held at the Timaru Family Centre in Dee St.

English Language Partners Aoraki manager Susan Henderson, Aoraki Migrant Centre support manager Katy Houstoun and Plunket Timaru’s Louise Haley will be involved with running the weekly group.

Ms Henderson said there had been a fortnightly “mums and bubs” migrant playgroup in the past, but numbers had dwindled away and it had stopped being held a few years ago.

Ms Houston said Plunket staff had raised the issue that many migrant parents were not sending their children to mainstream playcentres or other groups, often because their lack of English could make them uncomfortable around New Zealand-born families.

In response to this, the three organisations had decided it was time to start a similar group.

Ms Henderson hoped the group would be holistic, particularly around helping migrants with their English, but also providing a space where different languages could be spoken.

The involvement of the Aoraki Migrant Centre also provided that connection to the wider Migrant Centre services and support, and Plunket staff would be able to help from a child-care perspective.

Ms Houstoun said while it was not confirmed, the playgroup organisers hoped transport could be provided for parents taking their children to the centre.

This would reduce transportation barriers if people did not have their own cars or could not drive, she said.

Ms Henderson said it was “a little unknown” about how many people would be interested in the group, but she hoped word of mouth – particularly between friends and neighbours of migrant families – would boost numbers and interest.

The group will meet on Thursdays, from 10am, at the Timaru Family Centre, 3 Dee St.