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Children’s club closes after ten years

PUBLISHED: 16:40 27 May 2011 | UPDATED: 13:50 31 May 2011

Nadira and Hamza with their younger brother Omar who has special needs and who they help care for attended the club

Nadira and Hamza with their younger brother Omar who has special needs and who they help care for attended the club

Archant

A Saturday club which ran activities for children with special needs and their families shut its doors for the last time as it becomes the latest service to fall victim to spending cuts.

After ten years, the family play project, run by charity Toyhouse Libraries and based in Stephen Hawking School in Limehouse, has lost all its funding from the council.

The club was one of few in London to cater for children with disabilities or autism and their families, which often included carer siblings of primary-school age.

Describing the club as “incredibly popular and successful”, Toyhouse manager Pip Pinhorn says that the council did not consult with users or staff properly before pushing through the cuts which forced it to close on May 21.

She added: “It’s hard to see where this project falls down as it hits every button. If you just identify one member of the family as having a problem you’re missing the whole context in which they live the rest of their lives. We had a lot of young carers use the service too.

“The worst thing is the council failed to consult.”

Two part-time staff members have been made redundant and the twenty families who regularly attended have been told other services will be found for them.

Matt Chaney took his seven-year-old daughter Alice, who has special needs, to the club since she was 18 months.

He said: “It’s going to be a big change. We all now have to figure out what we’re going to do with our kids as lots of other clubs have closed too. It’s been upsetting for everyone.”

The council said it made its decision because the project was thought to be too pricey.

A spokesperson added: “The family play session operated for two hours a week, and at �£30,000 this was considered to be a high cost service.”

It said families were contacted and given information on other specialist clubs and access to carers who help kids with special needs take part in mainstream activities.


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