Disabled children go on days out after months in lockdown

A Cheshire charity that supports children and young people with disabilities has refused to let Covid-19 prevent them from creating a book full of memories. 

Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme (CCBS) was founded in 2004 and has grown from 10 children and one club to supporting 136 children and running nine clubs.

With the help of the Steve Morgan Foundation and the Cheshire Community Foundation, the charity has resumed taking the youngsters on days out and has just finished their latest summer 2020 photo book to illustrate the point.

Co-founder Stephanie Lawley said some of the children hadn’t been outside their own home for 14 weeks during lockdown until the CCBS resumed their day trips in June.

The charity was launched after a number of parents of disabled children recognised they weren’t doing what mainstream children were doing because they were not getting the same opportunities. 

Stephanie said: “A lot of similar organisations in our area weren’t doing anything because of Covid-19 but the Buddies decided we had to adapt and change our offering so we could keep supporting local disabled children.

“We know we can’t do things like we normally did but running smaller groups with extra precautions and social distancing was realistic and that’s what we aimed for.

“As soon as the public parks were opened we started going out in our Steve Morgan minibus but instead of going out with 14 children and three support staff we went out with six children and two support staff because of social distancing.

“It means we’re going out on a lot more smaller trips but the children were desperate to get out and about and see somewhere different.”

To help with their costs the Buddies were awarded £7,680, which was split equally by the Steve Morgan Foundation and the Cheshire Community Foundation. It takes the total money awarded to the charity from the Steve Morgan Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Fund to £11,186.

Stephanie said: “We’ve used the outside environment as much as possible running groups to Tatton Park in Cheshire; Hanley Park in Stoke; Queens Park in Crewe; Crosby Beach; New Brighton; and Blackpool.

“Every week we take around 60 children aged between eight and 18 and it’s nice to see them smiling again. It also gives the parents and their siblings a break.

“The support of the Steve Morgan Foundation has enabled the Buddies to run activities and support local disabled children and their families. These have been challenging times for everyone but thanks to the Steve Morgan Foundation’s support we have run smaller groups, more often. The bus has enabled us to go out and about and after weeks of lockdown everyone was glad to be out and about again.

“For those still too afraid to leave home we have delivered garden buddy sessions where we visit people’s homes and play in the garden with the children. This has worked very well for the children with complex needs.”

The photobook can be viewed here http://www.cewe-fotobuch.de/view/fca2789773139d663c4b47102130009c

Jane Harris, director of regional funding, at the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “The Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme (CCBS) does a fantastic job in making sure disabled children don’t get penalised because of their disability. They’ve adapted their activities in response to Covid-19 and we’re delighted to support them.” 

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