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£25,000 Grant Made To North Somerset Children’s Autism Charity.

Local children with autism in North Somerset will receive help and support at a new Early Years Specialist Centre, thanks to a grant from Somerset Freemasons.

The £25,000 grant will help towards the extension of facilities at their Early Years Specialist Centre, based in a self-contained space within Mead Vale Primary School in Worle, Weston-super-Mare.

Having moved to the Mead Vale location in November 2022, capacity has gradually been increasing, and this grant has supported expansion to 23 children per week, providing early intervention and invaluable learning opportunities for the children, as well as support for their families.

There are unprecedented waiting lists of children with autism and demand for places at autism bases continues to rise following the national trend of greatly increased occurrence and diagnosis of autism.

The children attending the Centre have communication and interaction difficulties including autism, or sensory difficulties. They attend 12 hours per week for up to two years, after which they will transfer to a school with specialist communication and behaviour management strategies already established.

Springboard have an experienced and skilled staff team and a highly valued team of volunteers. Across the whole organisation, 130 children and their families are currently supported per week, and at the start of this academic year there were unprecedented waiting lists at all centres. Springboard work alongside other professionals to implement therapy programmes, including speech and language therapists, and physiotherapists.

Springboard aim to start as early and as individually as possible with a child and their family. They support them through the crucial and often frightening steps of the early years and give them the tools they need for years to come and help give these young children the very best start in life.

Somerset Freemasons Andy Wade, Graham Puddy and Tim Gosling with L-R, Liz Smith (Grants Manager, Springboard), Ruth Glover (CEO, Springboard), Nikki Tams (Business Manager, Springboard).

Springboard Early Years Specialist Centre has now been open for eleven months for the first 13 children and they continue to steadily improve the facilities to ensure smooth running. Springboard have substantially increased numbers to 23 children attending from September 2023 by running two groups/classes at the same time in separate rooms.

Specialist play and learning sessions are run at four centres in North Somerset, including Mead Vale, and all were rated Outstanding by OFSTED.

The grant from Somerset Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Ruth Glover, Springboard CEO, said:

“We’re very grateful to Somerset Freemasons for their generous grant towards our new Early Years Specialist Centre at Mead Vale School. This will allow more children with complex social communication difficulties to access early years education.  We’ll be able to support them to develop the skills they need to transition successfully in to their primary school.”

Graham Puddy from Somerset Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Springboard expand their Early Years Specialist Centre. There’s been a serious shortage of places for the growing number of autistic children in the county and thanks to Springboard they will get the individual help and support they and their families so badly need.”

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