Aiming High capital grants –parents choose where to spend £80,000 grant funding for disabled children
Facilities for disabled children and their families in Cumbria have been given a major cash boost thanks to parent power. The funding comes after Cumbria County Council recognised the work over the past two years of the ‘Learning to Change’ parents group and worked with them in deciding the distribution of Aiming High capital funding to help children and families with disabilities.
As part of the Aiming High for disabled children programme, the ‘Learning to Change’ parents steering group were given £80,000 to give to partners and community based organisations who could benefit and improve the lives of disabled children, young adults and their families in the county.
The parents on the steering group approached different partners and providers in their local areas to see if a small injection of capital funding would allow more access to their services for disabled youngsters.
More than £100,000 worth of ideas were put forward over a very short period by the steering group which then whittled this down to give awards across the county to the schemes below.
The parent capital grant distribution involved:
Carlisle Wheelchair Club; The purchase of two racing wheelchairs and a transporter trailer which will mean more disabled children can join in their activities and the club can take the chairs to other groups and partners around the county. (£7,900)
Watchtree Wheelers; This club at Watchtree nature reserve near Carlisle promotes cycling for disabled and disadvantaged people. This award will allow for the purchase of a portakabin for use of children and young people to have snacks and drinks in and out of the cold. In addition their staff has recently qualified to maintain and repair their specialist bikes and so the award will allow them to buy the specialist tools and equipment needed. (£12,000)
Stepping Stones; This nursery provision in Maryport will now be able to cater for more young children with additional needs with the purchase of specialist equipment from monies awarded by the Learning to Change Steering Group (£6,500)
Workington Children’s Centre: A suitcase packed with allsorts of mobile sensory equipment allowing more outreach work with disabled children plus other sensory equipment for their centre. (£2,500)
Howgill Children’s Centre; Based in the West of the County Howgill have always supported many children with additional needs and disabilities. This grant allows them to purchase more equipment for their centres as well as replace some equipment that has been well used. (£6,450)
Westhouse "Wild West" Centre: Westhouse are busy developing a disability resource centre called Wild West in Cockermouth. This award will contribute to the furniture and equipment needed in the centre and will also bring forward the proposed opening date. (£9,500)
Bendrigg Trust "Aiming High" Field: The largest award from the Learning to Change Steering Group recognises that disabled children from all over the county access this great facility near the Killington Lake reservoir in Cumbria (between Kendal and Sedbergh). The award will allow Bendrigg to develop a piece of their land to be named "Aiming High Field" with drainage and landscaping and zip wires and a go-cart/bicycle track. (£23,500)
Barrow Leisure; Enabling disabled children to access universal activities is the aim of Barrow leisure. This money is to be used on special roller skates, 2 motorised exercise bikes and a 2 man go-cart which will allow disabled children access to activities alongside their peers. (£11,880)
Parent Robert Whiteside, a member of the parent led ‘Learning to Change’ steering group, said:
"Learning to Change was conceived to provide a voice for the parents of children with disabilities or who have additional needs.
Over the last two years the excellent work of the Aiming High programme and the steering group has begun to achieve that vision with support from Cumbria County Council.
It has been a fabulous innovation that parents in the form of the Steering Group have been pivotal in awarding grant monies to the organisations that are important to them.
The Steering Group are particularly pleased that this process has seen a fundamental recognition that it is the parents of children with disabilities who are the experts on the needs of their children.
The Steering Group looks forward to continuing this groundbreaking and intensely important relationship with Aiming High and Cumbria County Council despite the current austere financial climate."
Cllr Anne Burns, Cumbria County Council cabinet member responsible for Children’s Social Care, said:
"Our thanks go to the parents who gave up their time to consider where to distribute the funding. It led to much debate and in the end children and their families across the county will benefit from these grants.
The group were able to approach local organisations that we know children and families in our communities like to access, and work with them in submitting bids for Aiming High.
This has been partnership working at its best and will make a significant contribution in improving the lives of children."
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