Cala Bursary boost for groups focused on Midlothian’s youngsters

Bright Sparks received a CALA Midlothian bursary.
Bright Sparks received a CALA Midlothian bursary.

In our final look at local organisations which benefited from the CALA Homes Bursary scheme this year, we focus on three more groups devoted to making a difference to the lives of young children.

Beeslack Baby and Toddler Group, Bright Sparks Playgroup and Play Therapy Base, along with 10 other successful applicants, have each been given a share of £10,000 after deliberation from a panel of CALA staff and Midlothian Advertiser editor Janet Bee.

Beeslack Baby and Toddlers received a CALA Midlothian bursary.

Beeslack Baby and Toddlers received a CALA Midlothian bursary.

From men’s sheds to beekeepers, the scheme – which is in its second year in Midlothian – has awarded grants to a variety of good causes throughout the region.

The three worthy causes below highlight some of the important work being done to enrich the lives of young children living in and around Midlothian.

Beeslack Baby and Toddler Group is run by parents for the benefit of other local parents and carers. Meeting once a week, the group provides a safe environment for children under the age of four to play, allowing parents and carers time to relax and socialise.

The group was awarded £500 from this year’s bursary, which will buy and replace old or broken toys.

Julie Blyth, from Beeslack Baby and Toddler Group, said: “Any parent or carer can come and get together while their little one plays. It’s all about getting people out and about, meeting other new parents in the area and forming new friendships. It runs once a week at Beeslack High School on a Friday morning for two hours. The parents can have a sit down and chat whilst their kids play.

“This funding is vital at the moment, we’re basically running on empty and just have enough to rent the room. What we don’t have money for is buying new toys or replacing old ones so this funding will really help us give the children a wider range of toys and play equipment to enjoy.”

Play Therapy Base provides accessible play therapy for children living in Midlothian and surrounding areas to support their emotional wellbeing. Awarded £700, the money will provide two new play kits for the children to enjoy.

Helen Forrester, service manager at Play Therapy Base, said: We offer play therapy services across Midlothian and work with children who are distressed, showing this through angry or withdrawn behaviour.

“Play therapy uses play as a way of communicating which is easier than talking for children. They show us how they feel and how they see the world through the play.

“We get referrals from head teachers, social workers and parents and offer sessions in nurseries, primary schools and in our office playrooms. In some schools we offer a lunchtime drop-in service where children can refer themselves for short support sessions.

“This money from CALA will give us two play kits which are usually challenging to fund. These include toys, arts and crafts materials, a sand tray and figures to use to make stories in the sand and sensory play materials. We will buy one portable kit to use across different schools and one that will be permanently in Roslin Primary School.”

Bright Sparks provides support to families in Midlothian who have children with a disability. From its purpose-built centre in Bonnyrigg, the group offers playgroup sessions aimed at children from 0-5 years and five-18 years, out of school and youth clubs, and a programme of activities during the school holidays. The group was awarded the sum of £1,000 from CALA Homes’ Midlothian bursary pot.

Louise Gough, from Bright Sparks Playgroup, said: “Bright Sparks is a charity that supports children from birth to 18 with severe and complex needs and where all types of disabilities are welcome.

“We intend to extend the service to up to age 21 in order to make sure children at various ages are supported.

“We aim to support families through the early years, offering daily play group sessions and parent to parent support to families from the moment they find out their child has a disability.

“We also aim to offer social activity groups for school aged children with disabilities who often don’t get the opportunity to attend mainstream activities because the children often require additional support that the clubs simply can’t accommodate.

“CALA’s funding is a fantastic way to provide the extras that really enhance our services. For our children it can be things like the Christmas lunch experience and parties they often miss out on – we will be able to give them the party experience which is a fantastic opportunity.”

For further information on CALA Homes’ 2019 Community Bursary, visit www.cala.co.uk/bursary-midlothian