The Wokingham Paper

Wargrave children’s charity calls for help to meet £50,000 funding shortfall

Children who would usually visit the centre must now book visiting slots. Picture taken by Camp Mohawk prior to Covid-19

A WARGRAVE children’s charity is appealing for donations as it faces a £50,000 shortfall due to the pandemic.

Camp Mohawk, a multi-functional day centre for children with special educational needs and their families, keeps activities running on £200,000 a year.

Now, Chris Cordrey, corporate and community fundraising manager has warned the charity has lost three months worth of funds to date.

“Everything we do to fundraise has come to a halt,” he said. “We would usually host a bonfire night in November, and lots of fundraising activities in the autumn.”

And the financial hit has increased due to increased cleaning procedures.

“We’ve had to look at the whole process of sanitisation,” Mr Cordrey added. “It has cost about £10,000.”

Included in that, the charity has bought a £5,00 machine to clean the children’s ball pit. 

“You just wouldn’t think of things like that,” he added.

Camp Mohawk moved all sessions online during the height of the pandemic, including one to one sessions and support groups, funded by Tesco bags for life and the Berkshire Community Foundation.

At the start of August, it reopened its five acre grounds to families.

“We would normally have about 60 children on site everyday,” said Mr Cordrey. “Now we’re hosting eight families a day, four in the morning, four in the afternoon.

“Since reopening, we’ve had about 50 families visit — it’s very important for these families to get out of the house.

“Lockdown for parents of children with special needs is very different — they both need time to breathe and relax.”

Isaac enjoyed his recent visit to the centre, after months of lockdown at home. Picture: Claire Halls

Visiting the centre recently was Claire Halls and her son Isaac, who had been struggling without structure during lockdown.

Ms Halls said: “While many kids were glad to stay home and play playstations and watch endless movies, we have a little boy who just needs structure, stimulation, space and the outdoors, the freedom to shriek and flap. 

“Isaac has zero understanding of social distancing, he misses swimming and going for a cake in a cafe, he has been frustrated and unsettled. 

“We came to somewhere he is comfortable and familiar and the effort [staff] put in to making our visit possible has lifted us all and made our week feel easier. Half a day is plenty.”

Ms Halls said the centre makes a difference to her family’s reality and improves their coping strategies.

The centre provides space for children to play indoors and out, using the sensory room, music room, art room and various outdoor play areas. 

“We have about 1,000 children who know they can come to us from Wokingham, Henley, Reading and further afield,” he added.

“We really want to get the word out and show people what we’re doing. If you didn’t know about Camp Mohawk, you’d never find it. We’re the best kept secret in Wokingham.”

Camp Mohawk dates back to 1976, and was previously a registered care home and the respite centre.

In 2001 it re-opened as a day centre, providing holiday activities for children with special needs. 

And in term time it is used as a venue for special needs support groups and schools.

Under normal circumstances, the charity runs short breaks and adventure days.

At the moment, the centre is open to local families, but they must register first and book a visiting slot to help with social distancing measures.

The charity asks for a voluntary membership fee of £4 per month for families, but Mr Cordrey said this isn’t compulsory if families do not feel able to pay.  

Registration is open to any family who has a child or dependent with special need or disability. Any members of the immediate family are welcome to visit the centre and join the activities.

The charity welcomes donations via its website: www.campmohawk.org.uk/donate 

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