Mission to save special need group for kids in South Tyneside

Coun Joan Atkinson joins SNIPS chairman Deborah Wood, and treasurer Kristine Allam, and youngsters.

Coun Joan Atkinson joins SNIPS chairman Deborah Wood, and treasurer Kristine Allam, and youngsters.

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A play group for youngsters with special needs is facing a race against time to secure funding to stay open.

Activity group SNiPS - Special Needs Integrated Play Scheme - was launched 15 years ago as a fun place for parents and carers to enjoy with their youngsters.

Chairwoman Deborah Wood has now been informed that funding, which had previously been provided by South Tyneside Council, will stop in September.

She’s now on a mission to keep the group going.

She said: “We offer a range of activities in a weekly basics such as wall climbing, drama group, outdoors sports such as football and go/karts, arts and crafts and much more.

“It also gives the parents/carers to network whilst the children play.

“We have been to date funded by the council but unfortunately this will cease in September. To continue this well needed service within the area we are needing three, six, nine or 12 month sponsorship to continue and we are hoping by putting this in the Gazette someone will come forward to help.”

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, families and young people, who recently visited the group at its base in Harton Sports Centre, South Shields, says the council is now trying to help SNiPs become self-sufficient.

She said: “The council is working closely with SNiPS and supporting it in its transition to becoming self-sufficient.

“As part of the support offered, the council will continue to fund the service until September and is helping to identify new suitable funding streams and grants it can apply for. Indeed, SNiPS are in the process of submitting a large bid to The Tudor Trust which was identified by the council as a potential opportunity.

“The council has also offered advice on ways in which SNiPS can reduce its operating costs and increase revenue to make the service self-sustaining for the future.”

Coun Atkinson added: “SNiPS offers a valuable local service for families with children with special needs and is very highly regarded. By becoming a self-sustaining service, it will be able to apply for external funding that the Council cannot. Other organisations in the Borough which have gone down a similar path have gone on to have extremely bright futures. We will continue to work with them until September and offer every assistance possible to make this transition a smooth and successful one. “