Supporting Space for SPACE

The Steve Morgan Foundation has awarded a grant of £74, 647 to the SPACE centre in Chester, which provides accessible play for children with additional needs and their families.

Trustee Ashley Lewis attended the official opening on Saturday, when the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Alex Black, and the Lady Mayoress, Janet Black, officially cut the ribbon.

The Foundation’s grant is funding the salary of SPACE’s Charity Manager, whilst the charity has also sourced additional funds from elsewhere, including the Williams Family Foundation and the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme.

SPACE has been running play sessions in hired community rooms for over four years and, in October 2018, acquired their own premises in Chester.

The centre offers play sessions for children of all ages and abilities, specialist equipment to ensure all activities are accessible, an interactive sensory room and a resource room for parents and carers to include information, advice and counselling services.

The second phase of development due to open this summer will involve the installation of a specially designed soft play frame which will be accessible for a range of activities.

Charity Manager Jemma Gregory says: “The need for our service has been much greater than we have been able to satisfy, and our session were often at risk of over-capacity.

“Our new centre provides us with an opportunity to grow, to reach more families and to provide facilities for many more children.

“It will also enable us to offer more variety, more activities and more tailored support.

“We are so grateful for the generous funding we have had and the donation from the Steve Morgan Foundation has been hugely beneficial in helping the charity to move forward.”

Children aged from 0 to 12 have been able to benefit from SPACE’s activities, all of whom have learning, physical or sensory difficulties or additional needs, such as autism, Down’s Syndrome or global developmental delay.

Older children have also been welcome on a case-by-case basis and non-disabled siblings participate to encourage inclusive play.

Sessions involve creative play, art and craft activities, story-telling and sensory play and specialist toys and games are provided to suit all abilities.

Extra stimulation and variety is provided by visiting therapists who teach yoga, Makaton sing & sign and bring therapy dogs.

“When I visited the charity, Jemma shared a report with me showing that there are over 6,500 potential beneficiaries in the area aged between 0 and 25, and therefore perhaps 3,000 within the targeted age group,” says Ashley.

“There were between 20 and 25 children at the session I attended, but on occasions up to 40 children had turned up, with the limited space being overcrowded.

“The charity was then able to raise enough money to secure this new premises of their own in Chester.

“I feel that SPACE is an excellent and well-run organisation, which deserved to be given a chance to grow to meet the needs of a larger number of participants.”

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