Portishead additional needs discos continue after donations

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 January 2019

PANDA has received widespread support from the town. Picture: Bob Cartwright

PANDA has received widespread support from the town. Picture: Bob Cartwright

Archant

A Portishead community group for adults with additional needs has received a helping hand after it faced being disbanded.

Portishead Additional Needs Disco and Other Activities (PANDA) has received much-needed donations from businesses and Portishead Town Council to ensure it can keep helping ‘isolated’ adults with learning difficulties socialise.

PANDA has been running discos and get-togethers at the Folk Hall which are enjoyed by around 30 people for almost a year, but the group was under threat due to rising costs and a lack of funding.

Val Wills, a parent of one of the people who attends the events, issued a last-ditch plea for help at the residents’ meeting at the Folk Hall in November, and the town has responded with overwhelming support.

Peter Mitchell, chairman of the town council, invited PANDA to apply for grant funding, but as this can be a lengthy process he also pledged cash from his chairman’s funds kitty to cover the cost of the hall hire and ensure the discos could continue in the interim.

He said: “I believe it is important Portishead provides social facilities suitable for everyone who lives in the town, including those with additional needs.

“I pledged funds from the chairman’s allowance to ensure the discos for adults with additional and complex needs could continue while long term funding is being sought.”

PANDA was due to learn if its grant application was successful yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) meeting of the town council.

Businesses have also supported the cause with cash donations, and PANDA organiser Chris Sperring – who has a son who attends the discos – thanked the town for its kindness.

He said: “People with additional needs are often isolated, but they know each other and they look forward to seeing each other. We are giving them the opportunity to do it.

“We have got more things in the pipeline, ranging from social evenings and cooking classes to cleaning up plastic and giving back to the community.

“The massive support we have had from the public has given us the strength to do this. We can’t thank the people of Portishead enough for what they have given, and we absolutely appreciate the chairman’s help.”

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