Charity hopes it will hit jackpot with new lottery

AN under-threat holiday play scheme for severely disabled children is launching an innovative lottery game to raise vital extra funding.

The Let Us Play Scheme, a registered charity, has, for 20 years, offered a safe environment in Fareham for about 90 profoundly disabled kids to have fun in the school holidays.

But organisers are struggling to meet 40,000-a-year costs, and without extra cash will not be able to run their annual Christmas activities.

The holiday play scheme usually runs for three weeks in the summer, as well as for a week at Easter and at Christmas.

Charity treasurer and carer Dennis Barron said: 'During the school holidays it can be very difficult for parents as the children are used to a structured environment at school – and when they are at home they can get bored and be very demanding.

'The holiday play scheme is a lifeline for them, as they know they can leave their kids in a safe place where they can have fun.

'We have all sorts of activities at the scheme, from arts and crafts to sports, anything the kids want, and they get such a lot from it.

'But as it stands at the moment, the Christmas play scheme won't go ahead as we simply don't have the money. We hope this lottery will give us reliable funding and help ensure our future.'

Children aged between two and 19 attend the centre, which is based at St Francis Special School, Oldbury Way, Fareham.

Each activity at the scheme is devised with the individual needs of each child in mind, with one-on-one support.

Children's disabilities range from severe cerebral palsy, genetic conditions and specific syndromes, neurological conditions such as epilepsy, through to severe autism and challenging behaviour.

However, social services only provide about a third of the funding for the scheme, and organisers have applied for national lottery money and other grants – as well as starting the lottery.

Mr Barron added: 'We have about 60 lottery players at the moment, but I am looking to get about a 1,000 – we desperately need people's help, and the more people play, the more there is in the prize fund.'

The play scheme was founded in 1986 and has grown over the years. The centre now features sensory rooms, soft play areas, and can arrange outdoor activities, as well as outings for the youngsters.