Back our £10k appeal to help Stepping Stones special needs centre
Stepping Stones staff Teresa Blake, Cally Pocock, manager Debbie Wickham, Jane Hammett and Amanda Bush and children enjoying a music session
Specialist services provided by Trowbridge-based children’s special needs centre Stepping Stones are under threat, following funding cuts.
The centre, which serves the west Wiltshire area, has lost £10,000 of funding from Wiltshire council, after central government withdrew its Aiming High For Disabled Children grants.
Even with this annual grant, the centre has to raise in excess of £40,000 a year through fundraising to cover its running costs, but this year it will be at least £50,000 to account for the cuts.
Stepping Stones, based at Longfield Children’s Centre, helps children from birth to five years old with varying levels of disabilities, learning difficulties or complex life threatening conditions.
Centre manager Debbie Wickham said: “We are grateful Wiltshire Council recognises the value of Stepping Stones and we understand this is a central government cut, but it does mean we need to review what services we can deliver.
“We run a very tight ship and the only place we can make a cut is to staff, which would affect how many children we support.
“It is very frightening for parents when they first find out there is something wrong and the service we provide is as much about the support we give them as it is working with the children, so we want to continue to deliver the best quality care.”
The management committee will meet on Wednesday to consider how they will cope with the cuts, but Mrs Wickham is hoping the Wiltshire Times’ appeal can stave off any impact.
“Stepping Stones is only here because of the support of the west Wiltshire community and we have always been heartened by the support and fundraising.”
Laura McCurdy, of Warminster, whose three-year-old daughter Chloe is autistic and has attended the centre once a week for the past year, said: “Stepping Stones has helped massively with her speech, communication skills and her confidence.
"She benefits so much from coming here and without it, she wouldn’t be where she is now.”