THE FUTURE of a Hampshire special needs playgroup group hangs by a thread as its funding is about to dry up.

Southampton Opportunity Group, which provides structured activities for families with toddlers and babies who have learning and physical disabilities has notified its parents that after the summer the group may cease to exist due to insufficient funds.

The organisation, which is staffed by volunteers, receives no government funding and relies solely on grants, fundraising and donations.

The charity initially operated from Hardmoor Early Years Centre, at Eastleigh, twice a week but expanded their services and have and additional weekly session at Thornhill Sure Start Centre and one Saturday morning session that runs every other weekend at Hardmoor – due to the high demand.

Carolyn Allen, the charity’s administrator said: “There is no where else do these families to go, we are the only charity in the city who offer this service.

“We are still applying for grants but we are down to our last bit of money. We get referrals from all of the health professionals but we don’t get any funding.

“After the summer if we do not find any money, we will have to close.”

Natasha Rickman, whose four-year-old son, Kai attends the group’s sessions at Hardmoor E said: “I would be absolutely devastated if the group closed. They have helped me so much.

“Kai’s understanding isn’t great. He finds it hard to make bonds outside of the family, but he is really close to his key worker at Hardmoor.

“He will be very upset if the charity has to shut. It will set his behaviour back significantly.”

“Kai needs one-to-one supervision all day, he was autism, mental delays and mild brain damage. When he goes to Hardmoor it gives me and my partner a chance to have short rest bite and do things like clean the house and do the food shop.”

The charity is looking for any funding, sponsorship or donations. For more information or to make a donation email: