Parents and their children are “devastated” after a council said there was no more funding for a club that supports youngsters with special needs.
Brighton and Hove Inclusion Project’s Fiveways Saturday Club supported children either from low income families, who have special needs and who speak English as a second language.
The club has provided play and social activities for 17 years and has seen hundreds of different children and their families through its doors. But it has been forced to close this summer after funding from Brighton and Hove City Council was cut.
Club organiser Shonge Holdgate said the authority had given “various amounts” over the years but could not provide the £20,000 a year the club now needed to run.
Parent Chris Pitt, from Portslade, father of Jacob, eight, said: “The Saturday Club has been invaluable to us.
“Because of Jake’s behavioural and emotional issues, he is simply unable to attend ‘normal’ clubs or groups without having one-to-one support.
“That means we’re very limited in terms of being able to have somewhere that he can go and enjoy himself, and also to give us a brief break.”
Michelle Redfarn, 38, from Brighton, mother of Mark, eight, and Sam, six, said: “The boys have been going for a few years but now they will really miss it.“They both have speech and language difficulties but going to Saturday club really helped them.
“They felt accepted in a way they feel they aren’t in a normal school playground and the staff are brilliant.
“They’re always coming home with things they’ve made or cooked and it makes them so happy. But now they won’t be doing anything. It’s so sad.”
Miss Holdgate said: “It is not just the locking of a door and closing a club that is so sad but also as we watch these children walk away to know that they may never get such opportunities again.
“We have submitted so many funding applications both locally and nationally but they have not been successful.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said: “We have a longstanding relationship but funding for the organisation comes from a number of sources not just the council.
“Our grants department currently provides £5,000 pa discretionary grant and in addition provided exceptional one-off crisis funding of £15,000 in 2012-13.
“Despite this support we know, like many other voluntary supported organisations, they face ongoing challenges around sustainability.
“We know what a valuable service this is to the people who use it and we will continue to explore support for them as far as possible within our means.”