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Charity Interplay at risk of closure, as Neath Port Talbot Council withdraws £31k core funding

By RachelSWEP  |  Posted: January 15, 2014

Interplay

Children enjoying an Interplay session in 2012

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AN organisation which helps 750 disabled families each year it at risk of closing its doors forever, as Neath Port Talbot Council withdraw their core funding to the group.

Interplay, which celebrates its 25th birthday this year, was set up to create supported summer play schemes to integrate children with special needs into play.

But now the service is at risk, as the group was listed in a review of third sector funding by Neath Port Talbot Council, which needs to make £17.3 million savings following significant budget cuts.

Interplay receives £31,860 a year from Neath Port Talbot Council, but 100 per cent of that will be scrapped.

But John Thomas, manager of Interplay, is pleading with the authority to reverse the decision.

A Steering Group who looked at all the third sector funding given by the authority was advised that the service is not a priority for Children and Young Persons Service to fund in 2014-15.

Mr Thomas said if the funding is removed, it would put another £1 million secured through Children in Need and the Lottery, among others, at jeopardy — and result in the closure of the service, which provides up to 20 summer schemes for children with special needs in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

A letter sent to Mr Thomas by the authority laid out the reasons for making the cut, saying: "In drawing up plans to save the £17.3 million savings in 2014-15, the Council has examined all aspects of expenditure and income. Regrettably, it has not been possible to protect the third sector from this exercise.

"In the final analysis there is simply not enough money to continue the level of investment we have made in the past."

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2 comments

  • igg7890  |  January 23 2014, 9:55PM

    In my seven years of working in Interplay Swansea I found it to be a high quality service with innovative practices, strong values, inspirational personalities and boundless creativity. The core ideal of facilitating integration of children with disabilities into mainstream society is as relevant now as ever. Integration of children with disabilities poses a great challenge but one I believe is a vital goal for health and social care services. I strongly believe that Interplay Swansea is a service best placed to facilitate this in the Neath Port Talbot and Swansea areas for the following reasons: - Working with mainstream services to help them cater more effectively for children with disabilities. The presence of Interplay staff at mainstream playschemes means that there are enough appropriately trained staff to enable the children to engage with all activities on offer, in a safe environment. - Providing a school holiday scheme so that parents, families and carers have respite. In my experience carers of children with disabilities appreciated having play schemes provided in all school holidays, year after year, with a consistency of staff who remembered their children and were well practiced in providing all forms of care in an individualised manner. - Interplay Swansea battles the stigma of disability, thus hopefully battling exclusion of those with disability in society. Unfortunately society is still ignorant of disability and this presents challenges for children whilst out and about in public. The very fact that Interplay Swansea enables children to spend their holidays in all of the usual public places such as the swimming pool or beach means that this ignorance can be broken down. The manner with which staff interacts with children in their care sets a good example to members of the public. These interactions also exemplify the ideal that children with disabilities can instead be seen as differently abled children and can be encouraged to join in with all activities on offer. Therefore Interplay Swansea benefits- most importantly- the children it serves, as well as carers and society as a whole. I would appeal to all professionals involved in this decision-making process to consider the impact of removing such a service from your community. This impact will reach far into the future with a cost which will not be measured in money but in the quality of life of the children involved.

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  • th1564  |  January 22 2014, 10:28AM

    This is devastating! Interplay is a wonderful charity provide a vast amount of opportunities to children and young people with learning difficulties, as well as breaking down stereotypes sometimes held by young people or parents. We need more of these kind of organisations!! This charity touches the lives of many children and young people and I was privileged to be part of this last summer.

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