A HAMPSHIRE charity that transforms the lives of severely disabled children and adults has made a desperate appeal for £150,000 to save it from closure.
Bosses have warned the Rainbow Centre in Fareham could be forced to shut within four weeks unless it gets an urgent cash injection.
It receives no Government funding because the NHS does not recognise the pioneering methods it uses.
The charity has today made a desperate appeal to businesses and the people of Hampshire for urgent funds so that it can remain open.
Otherwise the Fareham centre, which helps children with cerebral palsy and adults with severe neurological difficulties from across the south, may not be able to continue its services beyond Easter.
The centre said that despite efforts to bring in more money through innovative schemes, the aftermath of the recession had “proved too much” and it was left with no cash reserves.
Although staff at the centre have been raising £47,500 each month to keep it going, more is needed in the immediate short term.
Centre director Lara Bull said that the facility had been living hand to mouth for the past 18 months, with three board members having to lend the charity money to pay staff wages.
New fundraising initiatives are in the pipeline, but the centre says that these need time to produce results.
Mrs Bull said that £150,000 would give the charity time to get back on track.
If it cannot be found by the end of the Easter bank holidays, the centre will not reopen and its 15 staff will be put on unpaid leave while fundraising continues.
Set up in 1990, the Rainbow Centre, in Palmerston Drive, began life working with children with cerebral palsy and their families, serving Surrey, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight.
Children learn conductive education, a system which develops new neural pathways to undamaged parts of the brain, helping someone to master control of their core muscles, limbs and movements.
It aims to give them increasing independence.
In 2007 the centre extended treatment to include adults, particularly those with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and recovering stroke or head injury victims.
But conductive education is not recognised by the NHS and therefore it receives no funding.
Mrs Bull said: “The impact of what we do on people’s lives is huge and there’s nothing like us.
“If we go there’s no conductive education centre in the south.”
"My son can now tell me he loves me"
Haanagh Smith and four-year-old Reuben.
“I LOVE you mummy.”
Those were the words that Haannagh Smith was told her son Reuben would never be able to say to her.
But Reuben has proved the doctors wrong – and Hannagh says that it’s all thanks to the Rainbow Centre.
She puts her four-year-old’s remarkable progress down to conductive education
at the Fareham facility, which she describes as a lifeline for parents that gives them hope.
The mum-of-three says that its closure would have a devastating impact on children
and parents across the south.
Haannagh, from Whiteley, gave birth to twin boys Reuben and Zachary three
While Zachary has battled meningitis twice, Reuben had a massive brain haemorrhage, leaving him with quadriplegic cerebral palsy which affected all of his body and his speech.
He cannot walk or sit up on his own and has stiff limbs. But when he was diagnosed, doctors told Hannagh and husband Mike, 41, that he would have no quality of life, and would be unlikely to be able to do anything for himself to be able to speak.
She turned to the Rainbow Centre, where staff worked with Reuben and his parents four days a week for the past three years on mobility, speech, eating and drinking and social skills using conductive education.
Thanks to their efforts he can now feed himself and take a few steps. At three years old, Reuben said his first word – “cuddle” – and can now say short phrases.
“I have seen him develop skills and do things that in my wildest dreams I never thought he’d be able to do,” said Haannagh, 35, of Saffron Way.
“He can say ‘I love you mummy’, things like that which I never thought possible.
“As a mum that’s quite a massive thing to be able to communicate with your child.
“It’s like being given your child back because you have hopes and dreams for them and then the diagnosis leads you to think that the future’s very bleak, but slowly they’re rebuilding a future for him.
“It would just be devastating if that got lost.”
She says that without the centre, Reuben could potentially lose that education or face having to go to London.
“This is Reuben’s lifeline to a positive future, it is our family’s lifeline,” she added.
“It’s vital for these children and the children of the future that they get given this opportunity.”
Ring 01329 289500, text RBOW21 with the value of donation to 70070 or log on to rainbowcentre.org if you can help.