Emmanuel Methodist Church are planning to use their award money to help set up a Phab Club in Ormskirk.
The Phab charity was set up in 1957 to help disabled and non-disabled children, young people, and adults to make more of life, by breaking down community barriers, reducing social isolation, and creating opportunities to enjoy the same activities and challenges side-by-side.
There are currently around 130 Phab Clubs across England and Wales, with some 8,000 members attending regularly.
The nearest such club to Emmanuel is an hour’s drive away – so the church members have decided to seize the initiative and start a new one of their own.
Leader Alan Hughes, who is helping to drive the project, said, ‘The aim of Phab is to promote and encourage people of all abilities to come together on equal terms, and really build inclusion.
‘And they work fantastically well – I was the leader of the Southport club for sixteen years, and I’ve seen first-hand the impact they can have on young lives.
‘Since we announced the plan to start the club, we’ve had close to fifty enquiries from parents and local organisations, so we know from that research that the demand is definitely there.
‘Our plan is to open the club in the early spring of 2023, and to run it on youth club lines with volunteers from Emmanuel and support from volunteers from Edge Hill University and Ormskirk Sixth Form College.
‘There’s obviously a lot to be done – there will be a main room, with games and music a bit like a disco, but we’re particularly keen to incorporate a Sensory Room as a refuge for those children who need to be able to get away from the noise and hubbub of that main area, because some youngsters really benefit from a quiet, calming space where they can escape to decompress from time to time.
‘We’ll need some comfortable chairs, some bubble lighting – large lava lamps, essentially – and the ability to play calming music, and we have estimated the cost of this at about £3,000. So to win half of that in one fell swoop is incredible, and we’re utterly delighted and tremendously grateful to Methodist Insurance.
‘We can go forward now with confidence that we can raise the remaining amount, and really cement Emmanuel as a major hub for the community of Ormskirk and the wider West Lancashire area.’