Dream becomes a reality as centre for Wigan's vulnerable children is ready to open

Seventeen months ago parents and staff were devastated to learn that a centre for vulnerable children in the borough was to close its doors.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 4:55 am

But rather than sit on their laurels and accept it was shutting, they decided to join forces and create a replacement for Hop, Skip and Jump, which had been located on Parsons Walk in Wigan.

After a concerted fund-raising campaign and a lot of hard work, their dream is about to become a reality.

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Money is rolling in for new centre for vulnerable children in Wigan

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Demi Priestley, Alex Eastham, Emma Eastham, Jessica Eastham and Lyndsey Stone at Brighter Dayz

Leading the way is Emma Eastham, who used Hop, Skip and Jump as her 15-year-old son Alex has complex health needs and disabilities.

Emma, who is director and office manager at the new centre, said: “I have been inundated with requests from parents asking when we are open. We are finally able to give them a date.

“It has been 17 months without this provision, so families have not only had to deal with lockdown and everything else that goes with it, they have also not had any respite from the children or been able to take them anywhere.

“For some parents, that’s quite difficult because it can be very demanding.

“I presume they will be so happy that we are to open.”

Joining Emma at Brighter Dayz are fellow director Lyndsey Stone and deputy centre manager Demi Priestley, who worked at Hop, Skip and Jump.

Despite the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic, they have spent the past year raising enough funds to open a new centre. Their efforts included a 20-mile sponsored walk, which saw 65 people go along the canal from Halsall, near Southport, to Wigan Pier.

There was also a fun day, donations were collected and other money-spinners organised.

In March they received the keys to a derelict building on Stephen’s Way, in Goose Green, and have been working tirelessly to transform it.

Emma, who lives in Shevington, said: “We have had lots and lots of support from local businesses, communities and families. We have got all the outdoor provision done for free by a fencing firm. We have got materials supplied and donated by several different people. We have had so much support it’s been unreal.

“We have had glitches along the way, but we are very close to opening. We still have a bit of work to do, but it will be ready.

“We have totally transformed the building, it looks like a different building. We have worked day in, day out.

“There has been great team work and a great community spirit.

“I want to thank all the businesses and the community that has helped us in any way. The support has been overwhelming.”

Brighter Dayz will cater for children with disabilities and special educational needs and will have a host of facilities on offer.

There will be a sensory room, an art room, a main room with sensory play equipment, a reading corner and a room where teenagers can relax, watch television and play computer games.

There is also a fully-fitted kitchen, a dining area and a large outdoor area.

After all the hard work, an opening day will be held at Brighter Dayz on Sunday, August 22, with the ribbon being cut at 10am and people then able to have a look around the building.

It will certainly be an emotional moment for the team behind the new centre.

Emma said: “There are times when I have shed a few tears and it does seem a bit surreal at the minute that we are saying we have an exact opening date.

“I am completely overwhelmed and I think I will be even more so when it actually opens.”

The hard work will not be over though, as the staff and volunteers run the centre and ensure it has all the facilities that youngsters need.

They are also in the final stages of applying for Brighter Dayz to become a charity, which will enable them to apply for grants to fund further improvements to the building and buy more equipment.

To find out more about Brighter Dayz, call 01942 834363, email [email protected] or search for its Facebook page.

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