Brighter future on the horizon for local group

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Midlothian special needs charity Bright Sparks is looking forward to a brighter 
future after moving into its new home in Bonnyrigg.

The charity has been busy transforming the former Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre into a state-of-the-art facility for children and young adults with disabilities, and it hopes to announce an opening date in the coming weeks.

Bright Sparks, Louise Gough (Chairperson), Susan Melville (Lead Co-ordinator), Julie Mitchell (Treasurer) & Kirstie Thomson (Vice Chair)  at their new home at the old Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre, King George V Park

Bright Sparks, Louise Gough (Chairperson), Susan Melville (Lead Co-ordinator), Julie Mitchell (Treasurer) & Kirstie Thomson (Vice Chair) at their new home at the old Bonnyrigg Leisure Centre, King George V Park

Having been at the Brown Building in Gorebridge from 1996-2010, then at Cockpen Centre since, the charity now has a home of its own and a secure future thanks to a 30-year lease at the re-named Bright Sparks Centre.

Chairwoman Louise Gough said:“The council decision to give us the building was huge recognition. We were absolutely delighted.

“Everything that we have been involved in since, the planning, the design, etc, there has been just one trivial thing go wrong. There was no socket where we put the TV!

“So if that is all it is then that says everything.

“We are getting the computers and broadband in this week. And we are just waiting on the fobs and entry system.

“Then we will be ready to officially open.

“In the past we could only have one group at a time. Some families wait no time for a service but some wait six months and we were not happy with that. That will all change now. It’s about being able to grow, and we will continue to grow. But a lot of the work is already done thanks to this move.

“We were for birth to five years old originally, now we can take up to the age of 24. It’s absolutely brilliant for our children and the children coming behind us.”

The building, which was set for demolition before the Bright Sparks proposal, includes three classrooms and a stunning high-tec sensory room. Everything in the building has been re-used where possible, with all other furnishings donated to the group.

Louise added: “Sometimes you just need to think outside the box. Make this investment and give something that Midlothian will be very proud of.

“My biggest fear was living with myself thinking that’s what we could have done.

“Instead of being scared to move we just had to say ‘let’s just go for it.’

“It was a leap of faith. We did the groundwork, put the proposals in.

“We were not cheeky, but gutsy. It was just thinking forward. Here’s another option.

“We were bewildered that the vote went our way. We walked out thinking ‘oh my god what have we done? Now, how will we make this happen?’ We have been very well supported by the council.”

For every 1,000 births there are 50 families affected by a disability. 150 families registered.

Bright Sparks is run by a management committee of four, six staff paid for by grant funds, three volunteers and four pre-school support staff from Midlothian Council.