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£500k windfall gives families time to play

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 17, 2012

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A half a million pound cash boost will give families plenty of chance to play together in Midsomer Norton.

Kate Hellard, director of Wansdyke Play Association, said the charity began the year with only £12,000 of grant funding but has now gained more than £500,000.

The money, which has come from Bath and North East Somerset Council, central government and the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund, will be spent within the community providing outdoor and indoor play opportunities.

Ms Hellard said: "The idea is to set up the building as a community hub focused around play.

"Our plan is to work alongside the community to develop the activities they would like to see provided.

"We would like to invite everyone from the community along to have their say about what they would like to see and invite them to get involved for the long term."

The group, which has organised play schemes, holiday clubs, community play rangers and play sessions across the district since 1993, recently moved into the former Barnardo's building on Redfield Road, opposite Somervale School.

Its previous premises at Leigh House, in Radstock, had only three rooms and three members of staff but its new home has space for 16 employees as well as more activities.

Phil Birch, volunteer coordinator, said: "This is an exciting move for us as these premises are a great base for putting on loads of play activities for the community.

"We work as much as we can outdoors because children love playing outside and often don't get enough of it, and we carry on with our sessions whatever the weather.

"We will continue to offer the play sessions in parks and open spaces.

"Although the building has great potential, it does need a bit of work to be done before we can properly use it."

The play association is asking the community to show its support by helping to give the building a makeover at the volunteers' day taking place on Saturday between 10.30am and 4pm.

They will be clearing, weeding and planting in the gardens as well as putting up new sheds and shelves, and giving the inside of the building a lick of paint and clean up before people start using it in coming weeks.

Mr Birch said there will be music and refreshments and lunch provided for anyone who can spare a couple of hours of their time.

There will also be fun activities for children throughout the day and the chance for people to find out how they can get involved in the work carried out by the play experts.

Mr Birch added: "It should be great fun for anybody coming along – with the added bonus of knowing that they will be directly helping a local children's charity."

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