A GROUP set up to support young children with special educational needs and disabilities has announced it is moving in to the empty Argos site in Braintree. 

Charity POP Essex will be moving from the Braintree District Mencap building, in Coggeshall Road, to the empty Argos property, in Bocking End, which closed in October 2021.

The organisation offers stay and play respite sessions in Braintree for children aged zero to 19 with special educational needs, their parents, carers, and loved ones.

The Argos building was shut due to the retailer previously announcing it would close around 420 of its standalone stores due to the fact it would be moving its shops into Sainsbury’s across the UK.

Braintree and Witham Times: Visit - MP James Cleverly visited POP Essex at the Braintree District Mencap Building in 2022Visit - MP James Cleverly visited POP Essex at the Braintree District Mencap Building in 2022 (Image: N/A)

With the ex-Argos location being considerably bigger than their current location, POP Essex plans to transform it into a suitable and safe space for the children they support.

Pop Essex’s board of trustees is thankful to Sainsburys for selecting the charity to move into the site.

They said: “POP Essex is extremely grateful to Sainsburys for selecting POP Essex to be the new tenants of the building.

“It may be a few weeks before POP is satisfied the site is ready to become operational.

“The plan is to open the building in three phases, with each phase being dependent on successful fundraising and grant applications.

Braintree and Witham Times: Building - Another angle of the former Argos property in BraintreeBuilding - Another angle of the former Argos property in Braintree (Image: Google Maps)

“Undoubtedly operating a building of such type and size takes considerable effort and resources, therefore we are reaching out to our local community for help.

“We will need various aspects of support, such as cleaning, equipment, building materials, skilled tradespeople.”

POP Essex was founded in July 2022 after the play and resource charity PARC, in Great Notley, closed in June the same year due to financial difficulties.

This sudden closure led to many families being left with nowhere else to turn to support their children.

Braintree and Witham Times: Empty - A closed gate to the currently vacant PARC buildingEmpty - A closed gate to the currently vacant PARC building (Image: Public)

POP Essex’s chairman of trustees is Matt Carr, and its trustees include James Yates, Keir Hughes, and Mary Riordan.

The charity had hoped to move into the PARC building and was liaising with Braintree Council regarding this, but the charity’s offers have not been successful.

According to POP Essex, the charity was “informed” that it “will not be considered as tenants for the former PARC premises”.

A move in date to the Argos building has not been specified but POP Essex hopes to have moved by the Easter school holidays.

To donate to POP's fundraiser, head to tinyurl.com/t2ej727r.