This July marks the 10th anniversary of a truly remarkable place, Unique Kidz and Co, an extraordinary place where children and adults with disabilities get the same opportunities as everyone else, to have fun and live life to the full. Features Writer Rob Bullock speaks to one of the inspiring founders, Jane Halpin.
“I’m just an ordinary mum,” says Jane modestly before going on to explain about some of the extraordinary things that she and co-founder Denise Armer have done over the last decade which include afterschool and holiday clubs, 4Ever Unique, Stay and Play, Sibling Groups and the new U-Nite Clubz.
Making lives better
“It’s been a massive project but hugely rewarding, we’re running a busy centre and we’re employers, fundraisers, mini-bus drivers, but we also go home at the end of the day to look after our own families. But we’re lucky that we work with some brilliant and well-trained staff who help make the lives of disabled children and young people and their parents better.”
Filling the gap in provision
Being the parents to disabled children, Jane and Denise, like many parents in similar circumstances, found that care provisions did not meet the needs of disabled youngsters in our area.
“There was some provision, some places that offered different levels of care but it was bitty and it certainly didn’t meet the need properly.”
Started in a spare room
So, with a lot of determination this inspiring duo spent over eighteen months getting trained up in all aspects of disabled care provision. “It was a lot of hard work just to even get to the point of opening a centre but on 20th July 2009 we started in my spare room. Eventually we were able to move into an empty community centre on Woodhill Lane in Morecambe.”
Over the past decade Unique Kidz and Co has used a common-sense approach to making sure that they make the world a better place for the children and young adults who use the centre. They run an after-school club ever day of the week through term time and are open every holiday from 10 -4.
“We’ve always wanted Unique Kidz to provide reliable consistent care for everyone who comes and a stable support network for parents. We have regular coffee mornings and there is a really good support network.”
£90K grant success!
Jane and Denise have been determined to make sure that Unique Kidz is always looking to the future and this year they opened the brilliant U-Nite Clubz with the help of an amazing £90k grant from Global Make Some Noise.
The U-Nite Clubz is an exciting new social club for disabled young adults who are aged 18-25. Helping them to get out, to make friends and to enjoy themselves. meets two evenings and two Saturdays a month and is completely driven by what the club members want to do. The young adults will be able to choose which sessions interest them and sign up!
“We have found that a lot of disabled young people can have limited opportunities to be with friends and take part in social events. Things we take for granted they can’t do. But the U-Nite Clubz has been set up to change all that. Now these young people can do what other young people do, go to gigs, festivals, pubs or even just for coffee and all of this in a safe and supportive environment.”
The next ten years
If the new exciting U-Nte Clubz are anything to go by I am sure Jane and Denise and their team will go from strength to strength in their second decade. They are a truly extraordinary group of people making life that bit more special for disabled children and young people in our area.
For more information about the new U-Nite Clubz or any of the other great work of Uique Kidz and Co please visit their website www.uniquekidzandco.org.uk