A PLACE To Call Our Own’s year as Chad’s adopted charity is up... and what a year it has been for the disabled children’s organisation.
Over the last 12 months, Chad has followed the progress that APTCOO has made, visiting the valuable groups that it runs for disabled youngsters and theirfamilies and witnessing first hand what a difference they make.
During what was the Botany Park charity’s 20th year, we reported on the DIY SOS challenge that was launched last summer and which has been responsible for a remarkable transformation of the once-tired and run-down premises.
Local tradespeople, businesses and residents gave up hours of their time and their expertise to help with the makeover, which has provided the children with a more pleasant and inspiring environment to visit.
Operational manager Carol Burkitt said that the year has been a ‘rollercoaster’ and that they never expected so much change so quickly.
She said: “We expected it to be something that we would start and work on over a three-year plan but the rapid and significant change has now provided APTCOO with an opportunity to look to the future at an earlier stage and in a stronger position.”
Carol said that being Chad’s charity fora year had helped APTCOO ‘enormously’.
“The publicity provided over the last year has captured the interest of the wider community and has brought in new families,” she said.
The numbers of people who use APTCOO has grown over the year and Carol said that people often say they were not aware of its existence until seeing it in the Chad.
Many of these families are now realising that they are not alone in experiencing the difficulties of having a disabled child and they now feel able to plan for the future.
Carol added: “The benefits to APTCOO of being Chad’s charity for the year are that it has highlighted and promoted the good work and positive outcomes for families with disabled children in Nottinghamshire.”
Chad leaves APTCOO with a bright future and its ambitious plans are all coming to fruition thanks to the contributions of local people, businesses, funding bodies and, of course, its staff and parents.
One of the most exciting projects is the Arts Awards, which will give APTCOO’s children and young people the opportunity to work for accredited awards by taking part in activities that include art, music, drama, bakery and textiles.
The charity has recently worked with artist Nathan Bainbridge to produce four paintings for the waiting area of PrimaryCare 24 at Central Notts Clinical Services, based at King’s Mill Hospital.
Carol said that this kickstarted the work for Arts Awards and the children really enjoyed getting involved.
APTCOO has also recently been appointed to work on Government pathfinder project, the One Project, which will overhaul the way in which families with disabled children are supported.
Meanwhile the building’s makeover is well on the way to being completed.
Work still to be done includes installing a kitchen that is fully accessible for disabled people, setting up an internet cafe, creating an under 5s soft play area and making an IT training suite.
And the ultimate dream of having an outdoor play area and allotment garden is also set to become a reality after negotiations with the neighbouring Cadets resulted in them giving a piece of land to APTCOO, which they will help develop and maintain.
All in all the year has been a great success and the future is looking good.
Carol added: “We are now working together better with statutory, private and other voluntary community organisations to expand the range of services available.
“We are working towards a ‘look what I can do’ environment and seeing our families thriving instead of just surviving.”