Disabled charity gets grant

PUBLISHED: 14:06 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 10:15 31 May 2010

The opening of Fledgling Family Services last year

The opening of Fledgling Family Services last year

A WENDENS Ambo-based charity which supplies toys to disabled children has received £131,000 from the Big Lottery Fund. Fledgling Family Services, which began life in founder Ruth Lingard s Ickleton home eight-and-a-half years ago, will be using the money

A WENDENS Ambo-based charity which supplies toys to disabled children has received £131,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

Fledgling Family Services, which began life in founder Ruth Lingard's Ickleton home eight-and-a-half years ago, will be using the money to employ a paid manager to take forward its Extending Opportunities Project.

Ms Lingard said: "This lottery grant will make an enormous difference to our organisation.

"Without it, we couldn't have coped with the continuing increase in demand for our helpline and for the specialist products we supply.

"Although we initially focused on the needs of families in East Anglia, people have recommended Fledglings to friends and we are now busy serving families and carers from all over England and Wales."

The charity currently supplies more than 5,500 families, many of whom live in remote areas where it is hard to find suitable toys and specialist equipment for their disabled children.

"By having a member of staff to manage our development project, we shall be able to improve the lives of thousands more disabled children and their families," said Ms Lingard, who has seen the charity grow rapidly over the years, culminating in the move to Wendens Ambo last August.

"In the beginning, when we were much smaller, it was fine working from home, but now we deal with over 7,000 enquiries from parents and carers of children with special needs every year.

"With the equivalent of only one full-time paid member of staff, we're heavily reliant on volunteers and the good will of the local community.

"So much of what's in our new offices has been donated or subsidised, from the fridge in the office to the printing of our newsletters."

Funding for the Wendens Ambo premises came from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, as well as from local sources including the Saffron Walden Carnival and the Sawston Fun Run.

The BLF's Head of Region for the East of England, Sara Betsworth, said: "It is fantastic to see this great project being awarded lottery funding.

"This money will go towards improving people's quality of life and generating many new employment opportunities."

The BLF awards £2million in Lottery good cause money every 24 hours which, together with other Lottery distributors, means most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project across the country.

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