Help keep ‘lifesaver’ family group local

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A BUCKINGHAM-BASED organisation that supports children with special needs and their families is on the hunt for new premises.

And while families come from several counties to use its services, the group is desperately hoping it will be able to stay local.

For 12 years, Clearly Speaking has operated from premises next to Buckingham Youth Centre, which it rents from Bucks County Council (BCC).

It offers a range of services to the families of children with disabilities, particularly autism spectrum disorders, including confidential advice and support, clubs and activities and respite care.

Clearly Speaking runs Sunday youth clubs for ages five to 19, runs horticulture and art courses and has a sensory room where children can calm down.

In the past, the group has been able informally to spill over from its small premises into the youth centre when needed for activities requiring more space, such as sports.

But now BCC will no longer be paying for the running of the building, the Youth Club Management Committee is responsible for hiring out the building as regularly as possible to meet the running costs.

Clearly Speaking director Janet Nicks said, unless it finds alternative premises, the group will not be able to offer its programme of activities for children during the Easter holidays, which give respite to parents.

She said: “It’s not a question of funding. We’ve got money to pay for hire as long as it’s realistic. It’s a question of finding the right site.

“We would really like to stay in Bucks. But if we’re offered somewhere suitable in Milton Keynes, we’d be silly not to consider it.”

Stuart Vincent, from Northampton, said his son Sam, aged 22, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has been coming to Clearly Speaking for five years and now helps the younger children with activities.

Mr Vincent said: “To be quite honest, it has been a lifesaver for Sam and myself.”

Find out more about the group at www.clearlyspeaking.org.uk or call 01280 824871.