A North Tyneside charity which provides free seaside holidays for children with disabilities and their families has won a four-figure funding boost from Newcastle Building Society.
Out Of Sight is a parent-led group that, as well as organising a range of different social and leisure activities, provides a dedicated accessible caravan at Amble Links in Northumberland which contains all the facilities required by severely disabled children.
The caravan, which was officially opened last year after a successful £50,000 fundraising campaign by the charity, is named Chloe’s Den after Chloe Gilbert, a former member of Out Of Sight from Wallsend who sadly passed away in 2014 at just nine years of age.
As well as the usual facilities, the caravan also contains a specially-adapted wet room and bed, extra wide doors and corridors which are fully accessible for wheelchair and buggy users, and is located on a site which has its own leisure facilities as well as easy access to the beach.
After being nominated by Out Of Sight trustee Jane Power, a £2,500 grant has been given by the Society which will meet half of the caravan’s annual running costs.
The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide grants to charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Out Of Sight grew out of an informal parents’ group which met regularly at different community locations and often found it difficult to access the sorts of facilities that their children needed to help with their different disabilities.
Around two dozen families have so far enjoyed holiday and respite breaks at Chloe’s Den, which is made available to them completely free of charge.
Kath Nixon, the charity’s chief executive, was formerly a family lawyer who became a foster carer, and originally got involved with Out Of Sight after fostering a child with cerebral palsy.
She says: “Many of the children that we work with have very complex needs, and the fact that they often have to attend or be admitted to hospital at short notice means it’s very hard for their families to arrange holidays with any certainty.
“Chloe’s Den has conceived as somewhere that our families would be able to create wonderful memories in a beautiful place, and the feedback we get back on their time at the seaside is fantastic.
“Our families know they don’t have to worry about not having all the facilities they need, or about losing their holiday deposits if they have to cancel at short notice, and it makes a huge difference to their enjoyment of the time they get to spend in what is a very special place.
“We get fantastic support from the site’s owners, but there are still significant running costs to meet for the caravan, and the generous grant we’ve had from the Society means we know that they’re covered off for the next six months.”
Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has contributed over £200,000 in grants to projects across the Society’s North East and Cumbria heartland, and is so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 97,000 people.
Applications for the Fund’s latest phase close on Monday 24 September, and can be made in any Society branch or via the Society’s website by customers who wish to support their local communities.
Kathryn McLaughlin, head of corporate communications at Newcastle Building Society, adds: “Out Of Sight gives children with disabilities and their families from our area the chance to spend quality holiday time together in a beautiful location that has everything they need to enjoy themselves properly.
“The positive impact these opportunities have is so clear to see, and supporting the charity’s work fulfils our focus on giving direct support to the communities in which we’re based.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.