NOTTINGHAM-based disabled children’s charity Footprints CEC is reopening its centre next week after a five-month closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak, providing much needed Conductive Education sessions for children and their families once again.
The Conductive Education Centre, which is based in Sneinton, provides sessions for families of children with mobility and communication difficulties across the East Midlands, teaching them everyday life skills that are often taken for granted such as eating, walking, speaking and socialising.
From the 10th August, the centre will be open with a reduced number of children and six members of staff five days a week. Just one face-to-face session will take place per day initially with the children that were unable to access virtual sessions – a significant reduction from the four sessions previously conducted. This will allow for social distancing to be implemented and robust cleaning before and after sessions.
To ensure the children remain safe, PPE will be utilised by staff and hands-on facilitation will be undertaken by the parent wherever possible. Staff and children will stay in fixed ‘bubbles’, to minimise risk and children will bring their own snacks and drinking vessels from home.
Although usual hands-on activities such as messy play won’t be available, the charity will ensure the sessions will be full of fun, singing and laughter.
Despite the physical centre being closed since the 16th March, the charity has still been providing its education services to families through virtual Zoom sessions, and these will continue for children that are still shielding. The virtual sessions include a mix of learning, exercises, songs, games and other activities.
Nathalie Bailey-Flitter, manager at Footprints CEC said:
“It’s been an incredibly long five months, but we are so delighted to announce that our beloved centre will be reopening once again.
“Although our physical sessions had to stop, we worked to ensure that there was no pause in our services, instead shifting to virtual learning, so the children have been able to continue their development.
“We still have lots to understand about the impact of the pandemic and expect there to be some teething problems initially – so the first few sessions back will be more focused on making sure the children are happy and comfortable.
“These past few months have taught us that your whole world can change overnight and that sometimes no amount of planning can safeguard your charity when a pandemic hits. We have certainly pulled together as a Footprints family and have received some incredible support.
“Thanks to a phenomenal effort from staff, trustees, ambassadors and families, we have been able to pay our bills for the duration of lockdown. However, we still remain concerned about the future. Emergency grant funds have been allocated and the general public is fundraising fatigued – we still have no idea when we will be able to re-run fundraising events.
“We want to say a big thank you to all of our families for their fantastic support throughout this challenging period of closure. We have enjoyed working with some via Zoom, and we’re looking forward to seeing those that can attend in person.
“At the start, we faced the dreadful reality of having to close our doors and were hugely concerned for our children as Conductive Education is a hands-on approach to learning that needs regular sessions. We’re excited to have come through such a stressful time to be back for our little ones, even though it all looks very different for now. We intend to run close sessions wherever possible, whilst ensuring COVID-19 safety precautions are adhered to.
“The big challenge now is to ensure we raise enough funds to stay open to continue providing vital sessions, so our children can truly get the best out of life.”
On the reopening, feedback from parents includes:
“We are very excited to get back to some kind of normal.”
“We would love to come back in August, ‘A’ is getting so much from the sessions over zoom, but I’m sure face-to-face would be better.”
“We feel that Footprints is probably one of the safest places to bring our daughter back to, and we would be happy to come back in August.”
The centre will be resuming its face to face sessions gradually on a phased basis as it begins to build up capacity.
Footprints has been an established charity in Nottingham for almost four decades, but its future is still uncertain. If you would like to support the charity, you can donate to its Keep Footprints Afloat campaign here: http://bit.ly/KeepFootprintsAfloat