A gift from Durham’s Freemen has answered the “dreams and wishes” of scores of disabled children and young people who are members of a county-wide organisation based in the city.
A direct appeal for help from the Durham Area Disability Leisure Group (DADLG) was met with a £2,000 donation that will kick-start the launch of new youth club and an associated extension of other activities.
The group, operating from the Vane Tempest Hall in Gilesgate, delivers a programme of sports, social and leisure activities during evenings, weekends and school holidays centred on venues including Durham City, Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor.
Founded nearly 40 years ago by two postmen with disabled sons, it has been a registered charity for more than 20 years and is now supported by the families of more than 200 children and young people, some just two years old and others 25 and beyond.
In recent years they have had just one paid employee but the freemen’s cash guarantees the recruitment of a part-time project co-ordinator to lead both next month’s launch of the youth club in Gilesgate and an expansion of their existing work.
“We try to fulfil the dreams and wishes of our children and young people and at the same time, cultivate a network to benefit parents, carers and their brothers and sisters. Being together and sharing the enjoyment and relaxation in the company of like-minded people can bring huge improvements to the health and well-being of each family unit,” said DADLG project manager Lesley Clelland.
“The freemen’s generosity has pump-primed the start of planning for the youth club, which is what the youngsters have consistently said they would like.
“The new project co-ordinator’s job will be to use the freemen’s lead to encourage other donors to support us. Already we have been given extra funding by the Durham Area Action Partnership, paying for some of the equipment and materials the new youth club will need,” said Lesley.
The group’s existing activities extend to exclusive use at special trampoline sessions, a soft play “Wacky Warehouse” area, martial arts training, Lego parties, craft activities, pet sessions, autistic friendly cinema visits, and family day trips within the county and beyond.
The chairman of the freemen’s wardens, Eric Bulmer, said: “We are pleased to be able to support such a unique charity that not only provides leisure activities for young people with disabilities but also includes and involves their families and carers as well.”