Parents send urgent plea for new provider to take on popular club for children with autism

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 have launched a campaign to re-open a Saturday club which provided support for children on the autistic spectrum in Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council is working to find an alternative provider for The Crossroads Saturday Club, which has been running in Ipswich for 13 years by charity Crossroads Care East Anglia.

The club was funded by a grant from Activities Unlimited, a short break service for young people with additional needs in Suffolk, and over time the service had been reduced from every Saturday to once every two weeks.

Ipswich-based social enterprise Leading Lives took over Crossroads Care East Anglia’s support services in Suffolk at the end of September due to changes in funding arrangements. However, Leading Lives only has the provision to run adult services so as a result the Saturday club, which was available for children aged from four to 11, was shut down on September 26.

Gillian Allard, whose 11-year-old son Albert has benefitted from the club for five years, said: “There really is nothing else like it and the kids absolutely love going there. A lot of children have been very tearful; it’s been a really big blow to the families and the children.”

The club moved from a site in Heath Road to another location in Sprites Lane for just five days before it was announced that the club would no longer be running.

“I think what has shocked parents is that one of the problems with children with autism is they struggle with change,” added Ms Allard, of Stonham Aspal. “They moved the club which was bad enough and then within five days they announced the club was closing.”

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A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the unfortunate closure of the club and have been communicating with families to identify priorities for this to possibly continue with an alternative provider.

“We need to ensure any new provider has the correct skills to support the children and young people and can offer the quality of service previously provided by Crossroads and although we have had discussions, we haven’t yet found an organisation who is able to commit to running the service.”

The spokesman said members of the council were meeting with the Crossroads parent committee this week to discuss the options.

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