Vulnerable will denied facilities

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On Sunday I spent some time at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre where they were holding an Open Day for children with disabilities and their families.

It was wonderful to see the way the staff interacted with the youngsters to make the day a wholly memorable and exciting one for them.

In my book the staff get ten out of ten for their commitment and enthusiasm. The children were able to enjoy and participate in a wide variety of sporting activities cheered on by their families, friends and the staff.

A particular attraction of the day was the Sensory Room. I noticed that a lot of the children arriving for the day indicated that time spent in the Sensory Room was going to be a very important part of their special day.

This room, with its bright, colourful displays and specially designed features, enhances the existing crèche and provides an interactive activity room for youngsters with disabilities to enjoy.

And enjoy it they did! It was a treat to see their smiling, excited faces as they experienced the sights, sounds and games on offer.

If the staff at the leisure centre get ten out of ten in my book, I’m afraid the same can’t be said for Horsham District Council which has indicated it will ditch the Sensory Room when it designs the new-build leisure centre to replace this existing one.

The bean counters on the council say it’s not really needed and, anyway, it doesn’t make enough money.

I wish some of them could have taken the time to come along on Sunday to witness just how much this facility is needed and how very important it is to disabled children and their families.

Some of the parents I spoke to hadn’t realised this special feature will disappear when the leisure centre is demolished and they were shocked to learn that their vulnerable children will be denied a special area in the new centre.

On a more prosaic note, there is also a large, specially designed changing area for disabled people at the centre.

Apart from the special loo, there’s also a shower and adjustable changing table and a moveable hoist to enable disabled people, both young and old, to use the facility with privacy and dignity.

I believe there is only one other such facility in the whole of West Sussex. Yet this one at the leisure centre will be ditched along with the Sensory Room if Horsham District Council doesn’t think again and agree to provide these necessary facilities for the more vulnerable among us.

Come on HDC - ensure Horsham’s reputation as one of the country’s best places to live is left untarnished and make a promise now to provide a sensory room and ancillary changing and showering facilities in the new-build leisure centre.

SHEILA WHITE

Great Daux, Warnham