Dad's fear over school closure

A DESPERATE dad is today fighting to save the charity which provides a lifeline to his family, but which is just weeks from closure.Kevin Ling is terrified that Suffolk School for Parents, which provides a specialised service to his two-year-old daughter Emma and other pre-school children with motor-learning difficulties in Suffolk, will be forced to close because of a black-hole in its finances.

A DESPERATE dad is today fighting to save the charity which provides a lifeline to his family, but which is just weeks from closure.

Kevin Ling is terrified that Suffolk School for Parents, which provides a specialised service to his two-year-old daughter Emma and other pre-school children with motor-learning difficulties in Suffolk, will be forced to close because of a black-hole in its finances.

As of this week, the school is using its financial reserves to keep running, but that money will only last for between six and eight weeks.

However both staff and parents are determined to find the funds to stay open and Mr Ling is doing his bit by running the London Marathon.

Mr Ling, 37, of Sheldrake Drive in Chantry, Ipswich said: “Once we found out Emma was having difficulties it was wonderful to have somewhere we could go each week and get support.

“It allows us to meet with other parents and children with similar issues. It relieves so much pressure for my wife (Jo) and she comes away with new exercises for Emma. It gives us hope.

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“It is a unique service and the atmosphere is wonderful. It would be devastating if it closes.

“Without it, it would be a lot more of a struggle.”

Mr Ling, an operations manager, said since starting at the Sproughton-based school a year ago, Emma, who is unable to use the left side of her body, has gained confidence and social skills.

Mr Ling, who also has a seven-year-old son called Tom, said: “It is a service that means a lot to us.

“We realised in the latter part of last year there was a problem with funding and it really hit home before Christmas and we realised its financial plight.

“I'd always planned to raise money for them if I ran the marathon and this has made it even more important.”

n To support Kevin Ling contact Suffolk School for Parents directly by calling 01473 652880 or visiting www.ssfp.org.uk.

n Has your family been helped by Suffolk School for Parents? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

SUFFOLK School for Parents has been running for nearly seven years and needs around £55,000 a year to survive.

During previous years it had survived thanks to money from the National Lottery, but that source of funding has now been stopped and team leader, Debbie Buckingham said as an established charity many other avenues of funding seemed to be closed to them.

She said: “We are still really hoping we're going to get the funding we need at the last moment, and we've brought in professional fundraisers who are optimistic too.

“But it's a hard time. We've been trying to get money for a while and it is not easy.

“I hope that even if we do have to close for a while it would be temporary and we would be able to reopen later.

“Last year our parents, who are fantastic, raised around £5,000 off their own back but we need a big grant to come in.”

She added that although they had been thrifty, people were beginning to get nervous.

She said: “We are the only service of our kind in Suffolk so if we close they'll have nowhere else to go.”

Suffolk School for Parents

n Provides early education for pre-school children with developmental difficulties

n Aims to develop children's abilities and confidence to prepare them for life at home and for further education

n Puts parents at the forefront of children's learning and development and provides support for the parents

n Sessions include play, songs, art and craft, drama and movement

SOURCE: Suffolk School for Parents

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