|Hamlet Centre chief executive Michael Rooney|
Families with disabled children have been given a boost after news that the city is to get two new specialist play areas.
Charities say the facilities will enable families living in Norwich to take their children to playgrounds equipped for their needs. Norwich City Council is planning to give £40,000 from developers' contributions to create a supervised play area at the Hamlet Centre, in Ella Road, Thorpe Hamlet, and has already given £12,500 to the Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association (Nansa) towards new play equipment at its family resource centre in Woodcock Road.
Michael Rooney, chief executive of the Hamlet Centre, which offers activities and support to children and young adults with disabilities and additional needs, said the cash would make a difference to disabled children and their families.
He said: "Our play area is beginning to look its age. The new play area will be for users of our centre, but we also want to offer it to other families who can book to use the specialist play equipment. It will be somewhere they know is going to be suitable and safe."
Officers at Norwich City Council have been given the green light to draw up a more detailed proposal for the new play area at the Hamlet Centre.
Paul Nicholson, the council's children, young people and play manager, said: "It is a great organisation. They recently set up a mobile toy library, which has been a real success, and they are doing a fantastic job.
"The play area would be within the curtilage of the Hamlet Centre and for its users, but families will also be able to book to use the supervised play area. I think it's unique for Norfolk."
The government recently unveiled a strategy which said that every local authority should be looking to offer specialist play areas for disabled children. Mr Nicholson said: "We're well ahead on this as we've been looking into it for the past couple of years."
Work is planned to start in the next few weeks on installing artificial grass, a wooden play boat and a nest swing at Nansa.
For many families a visit to the local park is an easy trip out, but for those with children with additional needs it can be very difficult or even impossible.
Sheila Parish, chief executive of Nansa, said: "A nest swing will be a huge bonus because children with disabilities aren't always able to use the equipment in mainstream parks. It will be for children up to the age of eight and our next phase is to introduce equipment especially for older children with disabilities."
Ü Friends of Nansa have organised a fundraising bike challenge in April to fund the nest swing. Teams are invited to ride a 16-seater cycle and raise the first £100 for Nansa, with anything extra going towards the team's charity of choice. Anyone interested in taking part can call Jess Rice on 01603 414109.
Ü The Hamlet Centre is also looking for more volunteers and sponsorship. Call 01603 616094.
Ü Is your organisation fundraising for new community facilities? Call reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email email@example.com
Norwich Evening News, 23rd February 2009