Three organisations offer to take on club for autistic children after parents’ campaign

Families are campaigning against the closure of the Crossroads Saturday Club for children on the aut

Families are campaigning against the closure of the Crossroads Saturday Club for children on the autistic spectrum. - Credit: Archant

Parents fighting to re-open a valued club that supported autistic children in Suffolk have been given new hope for its future.

Three organisations have offered to take on The Crossroads Saturday Club after its unexpected closure last month.

The club was funded by a grant from Activities Unlimited, a Suffolk County Council service that runs projects for young people with additional needs in Suffolk, and for 13 years it was run in Ipswich by charity Crossroads Care East Anglia.

Ipswich-based social enterprise Leading Lives took over Crossroads Care East Anglia’s support services in Suffolk at the end of September but it could not take on the children’s club because it only has the provision to run adult services.

Last week, representatives from Activities Unlimited met with parents from the Saturday club, who were all shocked by the closure and claimed there was nothing else like it for children on the autistic spectrum in Suffolk.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “The meeting was productive and everyone involved agreed that a replacement for what was clearly a valued service is needed.

“To date we have had interest from three organisations; these organisations will be asked to submit a proposal summary and implementation plan and costings to continue with the group.”

Gillian Allard, whose 11-year-old son Albert has benefitted from the club for five years, said parents were “completely delighted” that the council was committing to finding a new provider for the club.

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“Going from nothing to this situation is remarkable,” she added. “Crossroads is really the only place Albert could go where he could socialise with a large group of children on the same wavelength with trained staff and I think that would be a loss for all the children and that’s why it is so important to get it up and running again.”

Mary Hart has organised a Christmas fayre to raise funds for the club as her daughter, Michelle Bultitude, has a child who attended it. The fayre will take place at Nacton Village Hall on December 13 from 11am to 4pm - adult entry is £1 and child entry is free.