A GROUP of Melksham mums have joined forces to urge the public to help raise funds to save Stepping Stones special needs nursery.
The nursery in Trowbridge serves west Wiltshire and is used by many children from Melksham with special needs. However the centre, which requires £50,000 a year to run on top of money already provided by the local authority, has been told that £10,000 of funding it usually receives from Wiltshire Council has been removed after central government withdrew its ‘aiming high for disabled children’ grants.
Kylie Bewley, a mother from Melksham, has joined the campaign to help save the centre and stop any cuts to vital services that special needs children in the area require.
She said, “If we lose the centre then it is the children that miss out. It is wrong that the government is cutting funding for the ‘aiming higher for disabled’ grants but yet they are pushing for adults with disabilities into work.
“Without Stepping Stones it will be much harder for any special needs child in Melksham to reach their potential and yet the government expects them to be able to work in later life.
“All it would take is each business in Melksham and any other town that receives the service, for example, to donate £10 and we would get very close to the amount we need. Stepping Stones offers a valuable service which can really help a child in the crucial early stages of life.”
Kylie’s eldest son Dowie, who was diagnosed with the rare chromosomal disorder Mosaic Trisomy 8 as a toddler, attended Stepping Stones before going on to mainstream school. Kylie added, “Stepping Stones was a lifesaver for me. Finding out that my son not only had medical issues, but a learning disability, mobility issues, autism and a severe speech problem, really hit me hard but they were there to pick me back up. They provided Dowie with the much-needed physio as well as intense speech therapy. I also made some great lifelong friendships during our time there. I cannot thank them enough.”
Leeann Scott whose daughter Nazla has West syndrome, a rare epileptic disorder and global development delay, went to Stepping Stones before going on to St Nicolas School in Chippenham. Leeann said, “Stepping Stones is a truly amazing setting with dedicated, loving and compassionate staff. Nazla and I will never forget the help they gave us.”
Julie Feltham’s son Liam, who has the life threatening condition Hydrohidrotic Ectodedermal Dysplasia and is registered blind, currently attends Stepping Stones. She said, “Being able to approach Debbie and her wonderful experienced staff with any questions or concerns makes a massive difference in our lives. It’s just having someone who understands really.”
Becky Davis whose daughter Olivia has Down Syndrome and was one of the youngest children to start at only eight weeks old said, “ Early intervention is so important with special needs children and we are so grateful for all the hard work and support given to the whole family until Olivia left for school. Olivia is in a mainstream school and settled in perfectly, thanks to the dedication and hard work Stepping Stones made in the transition meetings. There was always someone to talk to for advice and a shoulder to cry on if needed, not only from the staff but other parents because they do understand as they’ve been there too. It’s such a lovely place to be always.”
The centre is for children with special needs in the west Wiltshire area. After children are identified with complex additional needs they are referred so they can benefit from specific therapy and the support offered to help them reach their potential. Children from birth to five, with varying levels of need attend Stepping Stones and, as the district specialist centre for west Wiltshire, they play a vital role in the development of many local children.
Contact Stepping Stones on 01225 350004 or visit www.steppingstonestrowbridge.co.uk with any fundraising ideas or to find out how to donate to the centre.