Grant lifeline helps children’s outdoor activity centre survive

A children’s outdoor activity centre has been saved after being awarded £147,697 from the Community Match Challenge Fund.

The Barnstondale Centre is based on the Wirral Peninsula and offers a range of year-round indoor and outdoor activities to boost young people’s confidence, self-esteem and life skills.

The charity has been accommodating visitors for more than 60 years and hosted 6,302 visitors in 2019 alone. For many of the visitors it’s their first experience of the outdoors and their only holiday or respite of the year.

However the centre was facing an uncertain future until the Community Match Challenge Fund stepped in.

Asked what the £147,697 meant for the facility, centre manager Jon Muspratt said: “In short, the survival of our charity. The money will enable us to continue trading in the short-term and retain most of our staff. 

“There are estimated to be over 80,000 children living in poverty in the Liverpool City Region – that’s one in five children – so it is vital that the facilities Barnstondale offers these communities is preserved. 

“Since the Covid-19 outbreak, we can all appreciate how it feels to be confined to our homes. For some children with disabilities this is a permanent state unless they can access facilities such as Barnstondale. The survival of Barnstondale will ensure our facilities and services remain open and available to support all of these people.”

The charity is planning to use some of the grant to recruit an operations manager.

Jon joined the charity mid-pandemic in June, coming from an operations management role with Amazon. Before that he’d served in the British Army as a commissioned officer. 

He said: “Apart from my part-time business director and one part-time maintenance staff member all staff had been furloughed as the charity looked to reduce overheads to a minimum. 

“I don’t know what ‘normal’ workload looks like but I’ve been working tirelessly to both learn the ‘business’, cover off on critical roles in the absence of key staff, learn very quickly how to write bids to secure much-needed financial support and liaise with key stakeholders to understand how Barnstondale could diversify its offer to support its community.”

“It has been challenging, both personally and professionally for obvious reasons. That said, the support afforded to me and the charity by the Steve Morgan Foundation has been of significant reassurance and comfort and given me the motivation required to keep going.”

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