Communicare future in doubt

Sidra Tahira and Fatima Fahad found friendship, support and acceptance at Communicare. The centre faces closure at the end of the year due to the withdrawal of Federal funding.
Sidra Tahira and Fatima Fahad found friendship, support and acceptance at Communicare. The centre faces closure at the end of the year due to the withdrawal of Federal funding.

Knowing no one, and spending most days alone when her doctor husband went to work, she felt lonely.

During a walk in her Cannington neighbourhood, she found Communicare�s multicultural playgroup and found a base for her and then year-old Fatima to help make Perth home.

�I wanted to know people here, and I found it here and the people were lovely and I feel good when I come here and so does my daughter,� Mrs Tahira said.

The two-day-a-week playgroup began 11 years ago, providing a service to the Cannington and Bentley communities that previously did not exist � a space for mothers from around the world to meet and for their children to play.

It is a soft entry point for parents and Communicare provides them with advice ranging from financial to nutritional.

Chief executive Melissa Perry said the playgroup provided assistance to more than 300 people in the past year alone.

�These families place enormous value and trust in the positive opportunity to access our evidence and informed learning, provided in our Cannington and Bentley playgroups,� she said.

In June this year, the playgroup�s Federal funding was cut, and shortfall provided by state and local governments will last until December 31.

�At this point, without any funding the service will shut down,� Ms Perry said.

The service costs $80,000 a year and Ms Perry said she was desperately seeking government or philanthropic community members to ensure the future of the playgroup.

She said if the service ended, it would place pressure on vulnerable parents and children.

�I don�t think people realise how vital this program is for our community, it means a lot to these parents,� she said.

Mrs Tahira and Fatima (now 3) still come to the playgroup, along with 5-month-old son Qasim. She called it a home and said she�d be sad to see it go.

�I love this playgroup� it should not be closed, I felt lonely and this was the only place I could make friends,� she said.