It’s official! The Yard, a hugely popular adventure play centre in Edinburgh for families with disabled children, is coming to Kirkcaldy.
After a search throughout Fife for a suitable location, the charity has decided on the Lang Toun and plans to replicate its Edinburgh facility here with the promise of up to 30 jobs.
The move comes after a variety of funders approached The Yard to help it expand its services across Scotland after its high profile appearance on the BBC One programme DIY SOS in 2012.
“Over the next 18 months we need to find a permanent site and within three years running a service the size of Edinburgh,” announced Celine Sinclair, The Yard’s chief executive.
“We just need a building. We are open to all options.”
Around 1600 disabled children and young people attend play and youth work sessions at The Yard in Edinburgh which boasts go-karts, sensory rooms, art rooms and soft play.
The sessions, overseen by specially trained staff, offer vital respite for families, many of whom have children with multiple and complex needs.
Until recently The Yard in Edinburgh was the only centre of its kind in the east of Scotland and over the past seven years has grown significantly.
Celine Sinclair told the Press the decision to create a new Yard in Kirkcaldy was absolutely the right one.
She said: “We had been looking across Fife and what we needed to do was work with the local authority to map where need was to decide how to best meet that need.
“Fife Council was very supportive. We know now that the best place for The Yard to serve the most number of families is the Kirkcaldy area, thanks to its transport links.
“It took us a long time to get to this point because it was a fairly intensive piece of work.”
Edinburgh currently employs around 30 people and it is anticipated that the new Yard will offer a similar number of jobs.
“This is an opportunity for colleges to have placements, for volunteers looking for experience and an opportunity to high quality permanent jobs,” said Celine.
“That’s what we want to make happen and we can do it quickly, because we’ve done it before.”
The news was welcomed by local parents, who said a permanent Yard-style service in Fife was badly needed for families looking for a soft play venue where disabled children could take part in activities on a regular basis.
Edwina Nutman said: “Thank you! We are really super excited.
“It’s going to be an amazing thing to come to Kirkcaldy.
Louise Morrison, who attends Edinburgh’s Yard regularly, said: “This will save me a lot of travelling. It will be great for the after-school clubs as well.”
Lynne Scott added: “Demand for it will be massive.
“I imagine it will be mobbed all the time.”
The Yard is also appealing to the Kirkcaldy community to help find a temporary space to bring an immediate service to local families in need.
Celine Sinclair, chief executive of The Yard, said: “Over the next 18 months we need to find a permanent site - either by refurbishing an existing building or building a new one but right now we want to open our service as quickly as possible .
“It could even be on a part-time basis; just for one or two days each week, or evenings and weekends, to get us up and running and off the ground.”
She added: “We know the perfect space is out there but we need the community to come forward, get involved and help us find it.
“We have the funding, we just need a building.”
In Edinburgh, The Yard’s outdoor attractions include a sand play area with water pump, a boat swing, solar dome and go-karts.
Indoors, children can enjoy soft play, an art room and state-of-the-art sensory room.
To create a similar set-up in Kirkcaldy - albeit on a smaller temporary scale - the charity requires a location which is accessible to the greatest number of families and a site with a good balance of indoor and outdoor space, with the potential to connect both areas.
The grounds also needs to be fenced, or can be fenced and made secure.
Various sites around Kirkcaldy have already been looked at but unfortunately fell short of what was required.
Celine said: “It’s quite a big ask - we find a lot of sites are an either/or scenario - but in order for us to run effectively we need a sizeable hall with a very large garden that can be made secure.
“It could be a church hall with a fantastic garden that’s not used at the weekend or evenings.”
If you can help The Yard’s appeal to find temporary space in the Kirkcaldy area contact Paul Hayllor, project manager on 0131 476 4506 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.