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A charity that provides accessible play and support has secured a £10,000 grant from The Chester Bluecoat Charity.

SPACE has been granted the money to help it provide regular play opportunities for over 1,000 children and support for 600 families in Chester and the surrounding area.

The grant will be put towards the charity’s activities for children with disabilities and their parents and carers throughout the coming year.

Funding gives SPACE a helping hand

The news provides a welcome boost for SPACE, which has seen its services disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. It had to temporarily shut its new play centre during the first lockdown earlier this year – only a month after the facility was fully opened.

Jemma Gregory, Charity Manager for SPACE, said: “We had finally achieved our dream of a fully open, safe, well-equipped play facility. Unfortunately, we were forced to temporarily close the centre on 23 March due to the coronavirus pandemic – just four-and-a-half weeks after fully opening.

“Like everyone else, the pandemic has presented us with many challenges. When we closed in March, we continued to support our families by running a range of outreach activities, including online interactive sessions.”

What is SPACE?

SPACE is a small charity that provides a fun, safe and accessible environment in which children with disabilities and additional needs can play and learn at the charity’s play centre in Grange Road, Chester. It also provides support and resources for their parents and carers.

The charity was founded in 2014 by a group of parents of children with disabilities and additional needs who were frustrated by the lack of appropriate play resources.

For over four years, SPACE ran single play sessions in hired community rooms until, in January 2019, it opened its play centre in Grange Road. The facility includes a fully fitted and padded sensory room, an activity room, a parents’ room and an accessible kitchen.

Then, in February this year, SPACE added a large, fully accessible, two-storey play frame, a soft play area and a parents’ café, to enable the charity to fully open its centre.

Post-lockdown reopening

Following the easing of the lockdown in the summer and a thorough risk assessment, the centre was reopened to one family at a time from 11 July.

Jemma said: “Our target is to provide regular play opportunities for over 1,000 children (aged 0-12) and support for 600 families in the 12 months from January 2021.

“We’re the only organisation in our area that offers accessible, inclusive and appropriate play facilities and activities for young disabled children.”

Peter Catherall, Chairman of The Chester Bluecoat Charity, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support SPACE, which does amazing work for families in the city and the surrounding area. Play is a crucial part of childhood, and ensuring all children have access to quality facilities is vital.”

To find out more about The Chester Bluecoat Charity’s grant giving, please call Kathy on 01244 345787.