School holiday breaks project for disabled children saved (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Breaks Project at Wanstead Youth Centre supported by Redbridge Mencap saved after Redbridge Council agrees to provide funding
A summer school holiday scheme for children and young people with learning disabilities has been saved after a change of heart from Redbridge Council.
The Breaks Project at Wanstead Youth Centre has provided working parents with a safe place to send their children during holidays for the past three years.
But an application to Redbridge Council for the £30,000 needed to run the scheme was turned down in January leading to fears that the project would have to be axed.
Worried parents, who had already been forced to make do without an Easter scheme, attended an emergency meeting last week with representatives of Redbridge Mencap which supports the Breaks Project.
They were told by Mark Grainger, Regional Campaigns Officer for Mencap, that he was pressing the council to fund an alternate scheme but that no guarantees had been made.
Staff at the centre said that unless any decision was made before the end of April there would be no time to plan the summer scheme.
In a statement released today, a spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “Redbridge Council is committed to continuing the Breaks Project for next year.
“We have confirmed the funding for 2013/14 and we are soon to start planning the programme with young people across the Wanstead, Loxford and Hainault Centres.”
Karen Fineberg, Chairwoman of Redbridge Mencap, said the news had come as a massive relief and that planning for the summer holiday Breaks Project had now begun.
She added: “We heard today that funding has now been confirmed for the Youth Service to run the Breaks Project this year.
“We are delighted that the young people will get the opportunity to have fun and develop skills and friendships.
“Our parents are also relieved, they will be able to go to work as usual and enjoy a bit of a break.”
Fifty-year-old Emmanuel Etienne’s, 16-year-old son, Amal, attends the scheme.
After hearing the news that the Breaks Project had been saved he said: “I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
“My wife and I were really worried because we don’t have enough annual leave left to have booked off for the summer.
“Now we have peace of mind knowing that Amal will be able to attend the Breaks Project.
“He is also delighted because he loves it there and it gives him the chance to socialise with his peers.”
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