SPARKLE: 'Centre could help us all so much'
THE South Gwent Children's Centre project must help disabled youngsters with the transition into users of adult services, to back up the care and support it provides, says a Newport mum.
Linda Allen, whose son James helped launch the Sparkle Appeal in support of the project in 2003, also hopes that beyond core weekday NHS functions, the centre can be a focus for weekend activities for the children.
A decision is still awaited on the bid for £5.9 million of Assembly funding that will secure the project, to be housed in a purpose-built centre at High Cross, on land gifted for the purpose.
Assembly health minister Edwina Hart, through a letter to the Argus last month, said she is confident that once Gwent Healthcare Trust has completed outstanding negotiations on the project, the necessary funding package can be put in place.
Details on valuation issues remain to be ironed out by the trust and developers.
James, of Wells Close, Gaer, Newport, has cerebral palsy. He will be 15 years old soon, and may only get a couple of years' benefit from the centre.
But Mrs Allen and husband Ronnie believe the project is of massive importance for future generations of disabled children, and not just in its key function as an under-one-roof facility for therapies and other care needs.
"I am quite worried about the transition to adult services," said Mrs Allen.
"It is so important we do not get children falling under the radar in terms of the support they need, just because they pass the age at which they can no longer use children's services.
"Links between child and adult services must be stronger and the South Gwent Children's Centre can be a focus for those links.
"I would also hope it can be used at weekends so the children can have some sort of social life outside of school.
"James has just started playing in the street, but his life has been these four walls at weekends."