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Charity wins £200,000 Lottery funding

A local charity which aims to improve the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of families affected by disability across the region has been awarded £205,075 from Big Lottery Fund – the largest amount the charity has ever been awarded.

The Special Stars Foundation will use the money towards its Centre for Inclusion project to provide a new range of specialist support services from the charity’s new premises in central Hull.

Parent-carers will have the opportunity to speak to a specialist counsellor, qualified in helping parents who are struggling to cope with the diagnosis of a disabled child. They will also have access to heavily subsidised or free specialist training such as Makaton sign language courses and PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Special Stars Foundation will also work with relevant external charities and organisations to hold workshops and seminars at its base and will provide regular physiotherapy sessions, support groups, counselling, alternative therapies and one-to-one advice sessions.

The Centre for Inclusion project is in addition to the services already provided by the charity, which include a diverse range of socially inclusive activities for children and adults with a disability across the region. Sessions include exclusive cinema screenings, inclusive football sessions and dance classes for all abilities, discos for disabled adults, a weekly sensory play session (Sunday Club), hydrotherapy swimming sessions, inclusive trampolining sessions, relaxed theatre performances and much more.

Special Stars was founded in October 2012 by Natalie Barnes, who has two sons with autism and was frustrated at the lack of appropriate provisions for them and so set up a playgroup for children with special needs. The group was popular and soon became a registered voluntary organisation and then a charity. Their Hull premises were opened last November.

Natalie said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded Big Lottery funding and are very excited to be able to give families affected by disability new opportunities to enhance their quality of life.”

Parent-carer Mary-Jane Hoyle, mum to Annie-May, said: “Special Stars unites the disabled community, it brings people together so we can support each other and it embraces the unique and diverse children that it strives to include in everyday activities.”

Special Stars Foundation believes that no one should miss out on an active and full life because of their disability and aim to reduce the negative stigma around disability and to promote inclusion in the local community. In addition, we aim to empower parent carers by providing them with the training and support services they need to give the disabled person that they care for and their family as a whole the best possible quality of life.

Membership is free and simple to complete. You can download membership forms from the charity’s website – visit or contact them on 01482 227657 or for more information.