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Hundreds rally to call to save Highland learning disabilities project


By Val Sweeney

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SNAP manager, Dawn Walker (front left) and SNAP children and young people manager Jenni Campbell (front right) pictured with some of those who could be affected by the proposed cuts.
SNAP manager, Dawn Walker (front left) and SNAP children and young people manager Jenni Campbell (front right) pictured with some of those who could be affected by the proposed cuts.

HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition in a bid to save a vital service for children and young people with learning disabilities in Inverness.

The Special Needs Action Project (Snap), which provides a range of out-of-school social activities for five to 18-year-olds, is set to lose its annual funding from Highland Council.

More than 1700 people have now signed a petition launched by worried parents.

They say the project’s closure would have a devastating impact on the mental health and self-esteem of the youngsters who are the weakest and most vulnerable members of society and unable to speak up and fight for themselves.

They are calling on the council to rethink its decision to turn down the charity’s funding application of £70,000 which represents 43 per cent of the annual running costs of £200,000.

Inverness MP Drew Hendry and Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans have also stepped in to see if the service can be saved.

“Families will simply not cope without this vital resource,” saidCllr Gowans who urged people to call on their local councillors to demand the decision be reversed.

“This comes at a time when another childcare provider, Direct Childcare, has stated it will be forced to close if Highland Council does not reinstate its funding.”

Dawn Walker, manager of Snap, said parents were already stretched as there was so little provision.

The project, based at Drummond School, provides services such as after-school clubs, holiday schemes and weekend breaks for 76 children and young people.

“It means 76 young people will no longer have an opportunity to socialise with friendsthey have made at Snap over the years, “she said. It also offers vital respite to families.”

Closure would also result in 20 people losing their jobs.

A council spokeswoman said officers met Snap representatives to discuss a possible way forward after its discretionary funding application was refused.

“Officers were very clear that the decision to refuse was based on the huge financial savings that the council is faced with making this year across all services and that this was not around the quality of provision that Snap offers.

“Officers discussed options for Snap going forward but as yet we are unable to confirm the details of this.

“Our care and learning service is keen to support Snap as they do value the support it offers to families.”

Following a visit in October, the Care Inspectorate rated the quality of care and support at the project as “very good” and the quality of environment as “good”.


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