Making a difference to the lives of children with disabilities and their families.

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East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme

East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme is now called Can Do

click below to visit our new website


8 Law Road, North Berwick EH39 4PN    Can-Do is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO): SC049885

Was International Year of Disabled People. Heather Gardner (Community Development Officer) visited East Fortune Hospital where

there were 130 mentally handicapped patients and where Wards 1 & 2 was for profoundly handicapped children.

Planning began for a project to bring some of these children out of hospital for music therapy at North Berwick Community Centre.  

This included recruitment & training of volunteers

and the Management Committee of North Berwick Community centre

launching a fund-raising campaign to pay for adaptations to the Centre.


Our Story

12 children visited the Community Centre for the first time to participate in a                Recreational Therapy Programme with 1-1 volunteers.

Heather starts to plan the first Special Needs Playscheme

and the first playscheme operates for 4 weeks this summer in tandem with a local playscheme.

With the support of Heather, the Parent’s Committee is formed and a fund-raising appeal is launched for future playschemes.


The second summer special needs playscheme runs for 4 weeks.

The playscheme is staffed by a Temporary Co-ordinator and volunteers.


The first Easter playscheme held and the 4 week summer playscheme is held



Transport crisis for playscheme - fund-raising and transport are the biggest

issues for the Playscheme Management Committee.


Campaign started to gain free transport for playscheme from the Education department.


1986 Campaign started by parents to gain free access to East Lothian

          District Council’s Recreation & Leisure facilities.

          Easter & summer playschemes - free transport provided for the first  

          time by the Education department.

          Free use of Council’s Recreation & Leisure facilities granted in July.

          Grant application made to John Watson’s Trust for a salary for a part-

          time Co-ordinator.


1987 Grant application successful and first Co-ordinator appointed for 15

          hours per week.

          Easter & summer playschemes run and for the first time a playscheme

         is run in October and a Christmas party is held.

         In September the Star Youth Club is started for

         teenagers with special needs.


1988 Major fund-raising appeal for the Playscheme is launched.


     With a lot of hard work all 3 playschemes run successfully despite lack of funds.


     Grant Aid from Lothian Regional Council’s Social Work Department is awarded to help fund the Co-coordinator’s salary.


1989 3 playschemes and the Christmas Party run this year and the Star Youth Club have their first Residential.


1990 - 1994


              The Playscheme continues to go from strength to strength in terms of provision and struggle’s to attract adequate



              Part-time Co-ordinator hours go from 15 to 20 to 25 per week during this time.


1994 Kirsten Baird appointed as new Coordinator.

1996 - 2000


            Fund-raising continues and demand for playscheme places reaches highest ever levels. Keeping the playscheme going requires us to fund-raise

            approximately £15,000 per year and things are getting more and more difficult to sustain.


2000   A combination of hard work by Alan Ross, Social Work, and the bravery of the Management Committee secures £22,000 from the New Opportunities

           Fund to open a second base of the Playscheme and take some children from the waiting list. This was then combined with a commitment from East Lothian

           Council to core fund both schemes which was fantastic news.


       Lots of hard work goes on to find a venue, Prestonpans Primary School, and turn it into a playscheme base that matches the  high standards we are used  

          to in North Berwick Community Centre.  


       Changes at North Berwick Community Centre mean that the playscheme is allocated its own office space which is a great help.  


       Charges made for playscheme for the first time.


2001 For the first time 2 playschemes run during summer and October - 1 in North Berwick and

       1 in Prestonpans. The first 16 children are moved off the waiting list and onto the main  list.  


       Changes are made to the staffing and an Assistant Co-ordinator and 5 Group Leaders are

       now  appointed as paid seasonal posts.  Co-coordinator now works 35 hours per week and a  

       separate Youth  Leader is appointed to Star Youth Club.


    Both playschemes are very successful and the parents of those children who got the new places  

       are delighted.


    Name is changed from East Lothian Handicapped Children’s Playscheme Group to East Lothian

       Special Needs Playschemes.


2002 Both playschemes continue to run successfully.


      Kirsten works with Stephen Duff, Sports Development Officer, to set up a Multi-Sports Club for

        children with special needs at Meadowmill Sports Centre.



2004 Kirsten is approached by Lorna MacLeod, Head of Meadow Park School in Haddington regarding the possibility of running a playscheme there.

          A 2 week pilot scheme runs at for children with severe and complex disabilities during the summer which is very successful.


          Kirsten & Lorna are working to try and make this a regular playscheme and funding is secured to run in 2005.


            SSSC qualifications change and Kirsten has to embark on new training to fulfill this.


2005  Successful playschemes run at all 3 bases during Easter & summer holidays with North Berwick & Prestonpans also running during October.

       Workload for Co-ordinator is much increased with the advent of Meadow Park and increased paperwork and bureaucracy to comply with legislation.  

         Assistant Co-ordinator post changes from a sessional post to a part-time post for 1 day per week to help with this.


2006  All 3 playschemes continue to go from strength to strength.

       The work involved in making them happen continues to grow.

         Funding is secured from Lloyds TSB to increase the Assistant Co-ordinator hours from 1 day to 3 days per week. This resolves many issues  ensuring that  

         all work is up to date, that all knowledge about the organization is not held by one person i.e. the Co-ordinator and that there is time to seek additional  

         funding for development.

         SSSC requirements change therefore the coordinator and assistant    co-coordinator are required to embark on further training.


2009 Meadow Park playscheme moves with the school to the Hub at Sanderson’s Wynd, Tranent.


2010 Funding is secured from the Short Breaks Fund to run the Hub Playscheme in 2011.


    The Management Committee work with Celia Borland, Strategic Services Commissioner at East Lothian Council to develop a Service Level Agreement (SLA)  

        which would protect the core grant and in kind services awarded to the Playscheme for the following three years.


2011 Kirsten Baird moves on from the post of Co-ordinator in May. Kirsty Wood temporarily fills the position until a full time replacement is recruited.

         Kirsty Wood is appointed as the Full Time Co-ordinator in October 2011.


2012 Funding is secured from the Short Breaks, Better Breaks Fund to run the Hub Playscheme in 2012.

      New youth group piloted (Shooting Stars) aimed at supporting young people to become independent

        within their own community.




2013  East Lothian Playschemes celebrates its 30th Birthday!







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