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Visitors with special needs and disabilities set to gain sporting access with help from Council grant

08 August 2022

Neat stacks of one pound coins

Up to 1,600 adults and children with special educational needs and disabilities will have proper access to join in sports and activities thanks to a funding award  from West Northamptonshire Council.

The council has announced it is awarding a £40,000 Changing Places Grant to  Sport4Fitness at Fernie Fields in Northampton which will go towards a new bespoke changing places facility.

Sport4Fitness is a Community Interest Company providing multi-sport activities to children and young people with disabilities and special needs as well as supporting their parents, carers and siblings. Their ethos is their activities can be ‘achieved by everyone and affordable to all.’

The tailored facility is for those with multiple and complex disabilities and specially designed to meet the needs of people for whom ‘standard’ accessible toilets are insufficient. It will be built to the recognised standards of what is known as a Changing Place Toilet (CPT). These include a ceiling hoist capable of moving a large adult, shower, disability toilet, sink, changing table and sufficient space for up to three adult carers to be able to assist and where necessary. 

The Fernie Fields site is widely used and open seven days a week. Providing further funding can be raised, the facility will hopefully be ready by March 2023. The full cost of the building work and installation of the toilet is estimated to be to be £90,000. Sport4Fitness has raised a total of £18,000 towards the work so far and are looking to raise the remaining £32,000 through continued fundraising activities.

The cost of the wider project including landscaping, storage, access paths, parking and fit out will be £120,000. Sport4Fitness currently has additional pledges of support and are continuing their fundraising efforts.

Cllr Matt Golby, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Adult Care, Wellbeing, and Health Integration, said:

“Sport4Fitness a makes a valuable contribution to disability sport in West Northamptonshire. They work with many organisations and charities who now use the facilities on a regular basis, these include Action for Children, Northamptonshire Children’s’ Trust, MENCAP, Autism East Midlands, ACE, Young Carers and Northampton’s own Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists; Born to Perform.

“The current lack of accessible toilet of this kind on the site certainly prevents some of those in the community, needing the use these facilities from attending. Clear example of this is some of the SEND schools and those who teach life skills to young adults. They sometimes choose not to bring a class rather than further isolate those with a profound disability, this is solely due to the lack of this type of facility. They are working towards becoming a centre of excellence for disability, and for this to happen it is essential for this work to happen.”

Mark Flaxman, Director and sports coach at Sports4 Fitness, said: “We are very excited about the whole project and looking to commence this project in September. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all contributors to the project so far. However, we are still not quite there and urge businesses and individuals in the community to pledge their support with any remaining funding.”