Trowbridge special needs nursery touched by appeal support

Wiltshire Times: Administrator Barbara Jansen at Stepping Stones, right, with  staff members Sarah Louise Clements and Lindy Gaines with pupils Administrator Barbara Jansen at Stepping Stones, right, with staff members Sarah Louise Clements and Lindy Gaines with pupils

Trowbridge-based children’s special needs centre Stepping Stones has been overwhelmed by the response to the Give Us A Chance appeal which hopes to raise £10,000 for the charity.

Last week, the centre in Broadcloth Lane, which serves west Wiltshire children under five years old with disabilities and learning difficulties, lost £10,000 of funding from Wiltshire Council, after central government withdrew its Aiming High For Disabled Children grants.

This left Stepping Stones needing to raise £50,000 a year to survive and in response the Times teamed up with the charity to launch the £10,000 appeal.

Barbara Jansen, Stepping Stones administrator, said that the organisation had been touched by the public support they’ve received.

Mrs Jansen said: “We have had a fantastic response, our Facebook page went from 280 to 360 likes when the appeal launched on Friday, we’ve had people get in touch through the website wanting to set up standing orders and many people wanting to hold fundraisers for us.”

Stepping Stones, which does not charge for its sessions, has also received about £100 of cheque donations from Times readers who have filled in slips from last week’s paper.

Mrs Jansen said: “We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already sent in donations or plans to do a fundraiser for us.

“It is obviously early days, but we are trying to co-ordinate the fundraising events so they are staggered throughout the year rather than hundreds all at once.

“Everyone we’ve spoken to about the funding cut has been appalled and I think the quick reaction and strength of feeling shows this.”

Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, who represents south west Wiltshire, has given his backing to the Give Us a Chance appeal.

He wouldn’t go as far as MP Claire Perry, who represents Devizes, who claims she’ll rally Wiltshire Council and the Government to make up the £10,000 shortfall which Devizes Opportunity Centre has lost after the Aiming High grant was cut.

Mr Murrison said: “I’m pleased the Wiltshire Times is helping Stepping Stones which does very worthwhile work.

“Although the three-year £10,000 Aiming High funding is at an end, the Government now funds 15 hours per week childcare for disadvantaged children aged over two and Stepping Stones can access this.

“The council still provides core funding and I hope this in combination with the appeal and Government support can bridge the gap.”

To contact Stepping Stones, call 01225 350004 or visit www.steppingstonestrowbridge.co.uk.

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