ON THE GROUND: Barnardo's Indigo Centre, Essex

Francois LeGoff

Scheme: Refurbishment of the Indigo centre's new premises, an Essex-based Barnardo's centre

Funding: £15,000 from the Peabody Community Fund and £25,000 from the Wolfson Foundation

Objectives: To empower disabled and disadvantaged children in their community

Clara has been going to the Indigo centre in Essex since it opened in 1995. She has global developmental delay, which means that she has mobility problems, finds it difficult to communicate and has a tendency to self-harm. At the centre, she can follow a range of leisure activities in a safe and supportive environment. She attends an after-school club every Wednesday, a Saturday club fortnightly and play schemes during school holidays.

Funded by Barnardo's and the London Borough of Redbridge, the Indigo Centre provides a variety of services including home tuition, after-school club, sitting service, outings and individual and group support. It works with 118 children with disabilities and their families, and 50 non-disabled children.

In March 2003, the Peabody Community Fund gave the centre a £15,000 grant to install a lift in its new premises. Previously based in Barkingside, the Indigo Centre moved to Ilford to a two-floor building. "The grant allowed us to make essential changes to our new building," said Viroo Bakrania, children's service manager at the centre.

"The lift enabled disabled children to access every part of the building, which was absolutely necessary in order to create an inclusive environment." The new building was inaugurated on 27 September by TV actress Michelle Collins, who had visited the centre on two previous occasions.

The relocation of the Indigo centre into bigger premises led to a merger with sister project Redbridge Young Carers, which provides home care services in the same area. This means that the centre, which was originally a day-care facility, is now able to offer more comprehensive services. This makes a difference for parents because they can dedicate more time to themselves or to their other children.

The centre also benefited from a £25,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation, which paid for the refurbishment of three rooms in the new building. Equipped with computers and musical instruments, these rooms are used by children to play or do their homework.

The support activities help disabled and disadvantaged children to remain at or go back to mainstream schools. Two children are currently taking computer courses to overcome their learning difficulties. Staff from the centre also go out to schools to emphasise the support the children need.

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