A Hucknall charity which offers a ‘lifeline’ to families hit by autism is threatened with closure.
In the same month Indigo Kids received the Queen’s Award for voluntary service – the highest prize for a voluntary group in the UK - the charity also learned it has until October to find new premises after a bid to buy their old Beardall Street School premises failed.
The charity, which was founded by chairman Sarah Seaton in 2007, is run by the parents of children with autism and supports families in a similar situation.
She said: “We are currently looking locally for somewhere to move. We knew that we only had a year’s lease and we had been working to get funding to buy it. We put a bid in but we weren’t succcessful.
“On one hand the Queen’s Award is great but we also have this. It’s bittersweet - we are told that we are doing a great job but we are not allowed to stay.”
A pre-school has brought the building which the charity has converted over the last year to include a full cafe, a charity shop, offices and playrooms, and a fully functioning nursery. The charity runs three kids clubs per week which sees more than 80 children with autism and similar conditions attend.
Sarah said: “We will have to dismantle it all. It will cause disruption we will have to get the children used to everywhere again. We are reliant on the parents to help us move all the equipment unfortunately.
Sarah says the new premises must ‘have quite a lot of room as some children with autism like to run up and down.’ She added: “We need to be able to leave our equipment - so the kids aren’t upset by moving things around.”
She warned that if no suitable alternative could be found, the charity may be forced to leave Hucknall.
“Some parents are saying it’s their lifelione without it - they had no one to talk to. Here there are a whole host of people who are experiencing the same sorts of things. We need somewhere where parents can get peer to peer support during the day clubs.”
Indigo Kids is currently trying to negotiate to stay on longer in the Beardall Street site.
Sir John Peace, Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, visited the charity last Friday to present the award.
Sarah said: “It was a nice day - everybody enjoyed it. I think it brought back to the volunteers how much they do.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was created in 2002 as part of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. It is the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups.
The school on Beardall Street began operating in 1872 - just two years after the Education Act of 1870 introduced a system of ‘school boards’ - locally elected bodies which drew their funding from the local rates to manage the non-denominational schools.
In July last year, the school closed its doors for the last time and a new school, Beardall Fields, was built elsewhere in the town to replace it.
Indigo had its official opening ceremony on December 11 2014 at the Beardall Street site, and Notts County footballers Alan Smith and Haydn Hollis did the honours of cutting the ribbon.
The charity is run entirely by parents ‘who have children with autism who work extremely hard to ensure that the service will continue well into the future’.
The charity says: “With over 500 children on the books and offering three kids and youth clubs per week, an autism tots group, autism karate lesions, Lego therapy sessions and advice, advocacy and signposting for parents, it is a one stop shop for all autism related matters; their next project is developing services for young adults.”