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

You can do your bit to help the Wiltshire Time’s Give us a chance appeal

First published in Wiltshire
Last updated
by , Senior reporter for Trowbridge

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.”

Comments (3)

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6:15pm Thu 6 Feb 14

ellliotluke says...

Councillors have to find the money to fund their inflation busting pay rises from somewhere, so target the individuals least likely to fight back! SHAME ON YOU!
Councillors have to find the money to fund their inflation busting pay rises from somewhere, so target the individuals least likely to fight back! SHAME ON YOU! ellliotluke
  • Score: 13

10:37am Fri 7 Feb 14

Dr H Z Hackenbush says...

Could I suggest the councillors that voted for the massive increase in their allowances prove they are there for the people and donate some of that obscene money to this brilliant cause and prove they are not just self serving parasites!!!
Could I suggest the councillors that voted for the massive increase in their allowances prove they are there for the people and donate some of that obscene money to this brilliant cause and prove they are not just self serving parasites!!! Dr H Z Hackenbush
  • Score: 7

7:01pm Fri 7 Feb 14

Kylie Bewley says...

When a parent finds out that there is something wrong with their child's development it can be a very distressing time and they need places like Stepping Stones not only for their expertise in helping these children but for their compassion and support. Stepping Stones also provides parents who are feeling very alone and isolated to meet others in the same position.
My son (now 9) attended Stepping Stones from just before the age of 2 until he started school and I cannot express how grateful I am for all the help they gave us. Stepping Stones hold a dear place in our hearts and I made some fantastic friends there. They serve the whole community and I can guarentee that if you have not had dealings with them yourself then you will have a friend or family member that has. They give some of our community's most vaunerable children the best start in life and it is absolutely shameful that cuts have been made here. It's just another example of the ConDem party targeting the needy whilst their upper class friends enjoy their full fridges, nice holidays and their kids want for nothing! David Cameron's own son had he been from a different background would have been the type of child to access a place like Stepping Stones... We can't all have paid nurse maids tho hey....
When a parent finds out that there is something wrong with their child's development it can be a very distressing time and they need places like Stepping Stones not only for their expertise in helping these children but for their compassion and support. Stepping Stones also provides parents who are feeling very alone and isolated to meet others in the same position. My son (now 9) attended Stepping Stones from just before the age of 2 until he started school and I cannot express how grateful I am for all the help they gave us. Stepping Stones hold a dear place in our hearts and I made some fantastic friends there. They serve the whole community and I can guarentee that if you have not had dealings with them yourself then you will have a friend or family member that has. They give some of our community's most vaunerable children the best start in life and it is absolutely shameful that cuts have been made here. It's just another example of the ConDem party targeting the needy whilst their upper class friends enjoy their full fridges, nice holidays and their kids want for nothing! David Cameron's own son had he been from a different background would have been the type of child to access a place like Stepping Stones... We can't all have paid nurse maids tho hey.... Kylie Bewley
  • Score: 6

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