A £51,000 grant from Benefact Trust in 2018, has supported the construction of the new £5.1 million fully-inclusive facility, which is based at one of the largest special schools in England, with more than 300 pupils.
The centre was completed in January 2021 and opened to Milestone pupils in February under strict Covid rules. The students have made excellent use of the incredible facilities, which include a hydrotherapy pool complex, three-storey soft play, accessible climbing wall and rebound therapy. The centre has now started to open up to outside users for therapies and short break provision, specially adapted to make Chamwell as safe as possible from Covid-19, even for the most vulnerable.
The Chamwell Centre construction was on time and on budget and due to open in Easter 2020, when Covid lockdown halted work three weeks from completion. Building was paused and then progressed very slowly, taking nine months to complete the remaining work. The delays had a huge impact on the project, scuppering the expectation that the facility would be open and generating income by March 2020. However, with hard work and perseverance the centre is back on track having recruited an excellent CEO, head of therapies and lifeguards. Whilst unable to run services, the centre was in touch with potential service users and carried out research on the impact of Coronavirus on people with additional needs.
The new, light and bright Chamwell Centre Café opened early July, welcoming the community in to come and enjoy the amazing, new space.
Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “The Milestone School has always been passionate about working in partnership to provide the very best care and opportunities for young people with severe and complex needs; not only for its own pupils but those in the wider community.
“The new building will enhance the lives of families throughout Gloucestershire and we’re so pleased to have been able to support it, particularly as the school is local to our headquarters and close to our hearts.
“At the heart of Benefact Trust’s grant-giving is helping the most in need and we were impressed by the far-reaching impact of this ambitious project. As well as breaking down barriers through community engagement, it will provide therapy and opportunities to be active and learn life and employment skills, but most importantly, it will bring joy.”