Helping children find fun and friendship with Jump Space
16 March 2022
We’re continuing our series to capture the impact of Ardonagh Community Trust’s (ACT) work by sharing the stories of the people behind ACT’s Community Grant programme, which provides colleagues across The Ardonagh Group the opportunity to apply for up to £5,000 towards a charitable project or cause close to their hearts.
In this story we hear from former Manchester City player, Paul Lake and his wife Joanne, whose family were supported by the charity Jump Space, a specialist centre that provides therapy, trampolining and sensory play to people with disabilities and their families to find fun and friendship in a non-judgemental space.
We also hear from Ardonagh and Bravo Networks colleague, Fintan Griffin, whose brother’s experiences of caring for his own children with autism, inspired Fintan to apply for a £4,775 community grant from ACT to help the charity provide a new outreach service to schools.
Helping children find fun and friendship with Jump Space
Joanne and Paul Lake, Ed's parents
Our son Ed was diagnosed with autism when he was three-and-a-half years old, which is actually quite young to get a diagnosis. He had these little foibles and traits, and as he got older, we realised there were situations and environments that he could not cope with. He didn’t want to join in with others, little things started to blow up — but he was our first child and we didn’t think anything of it.
A teacher followed it up and said he needed to be assessed. But from the moment he received a diagnosis he started to get the support he needed, and it really helped him personally as well as in terms of his education.
Ed had always found it hard to access mainstream activities – the parties and play groups – it was really very difficult for him to interact with others. We were quite desperate to find somewhere he could stay fit and active whilst at the same time be comfortable.
We did a bit of digging around and found Jump Space in Stockport. It’s a place where children who might typically struggle to access a traditional indoor play environment can go to exercise, be social and have some fun. We went along with Ed when he was five years old and he absolutely loved it. The staff were very well trained and understood the issues he had. It was a place where we could all relax as a family as both our children were welcome to play and bounce and we could talk to other parents.
It was all such a relief in those early days. Being able to find somewhere where we could all just be – it felt like such a revelation. The staff are incredibly committed and ensure that each child comes away from their time there having had an amazing experience.
Jump Space was somewhere our son could learn new skills in what was a safe environment for him. There are no assumptions there. Each child comes in with a unique set of challenges which are accommodated in a way that suits them. It’s always about what the child can do.
Children are able to learn to cope with situations they might otherwise find challenging and actually enjoy themselves. This is something we experienced ourselves when we heard our son have a proper belly laugh – it was the highlight of our week. To be able to have those experiences with your child is just so important.
One of the things that made it so special is that we could bring both our children. They were able to just play together and share the space, which helped them to build a relationship and grow in confidence.
When some parents get through the door it’s an opportunity for them to let off some steam and find comfort in each other’s experiences. For a lot of parents, it’s the only chance they get an hour to themselves. Being able to socialise with others in the same situation meant so much – they became like family to us.
We made some really good friendships. When your child is first diagnosed you can feel quite lonely. When you go somewhere and meet people in similar situations you realise it’s not all doom and gloom.
We credit Jump Space with the progress our son has made. He found new levels of confidence and benefitted from the opportunities for social interaction, which has helped him no end. Jump Space has been instrumental in so many of his achievements over the years. The team there have been a huge part of our journey and played an enormous part in Ed’s development.
We look back with so much fondness at the memories they gave to us. Ed would not be where he is today without their care and nurturing, the sheer dedication, we all received from the team.
We would like to thank ACT for the grant which is helping Jump Space to continue its work. Without this support from businesses, Jump Space simply would not survive. The funding will ensure that this environment, which is filled with compassion and friendship, will continue to be there for others. There’s nowhere else like Jump Space in the north-west – everybody is welcome there. It is an amazing place, and we are so incredibly lucky to have been part of its wonderful community.
Fintan Griffin, Business Development Manager, Bravo Networks
I have two nephews who have been diagnosed with autism including severe learning difficulties. They are older now, but I think things have felt quite difficult for my brother’s family – there’s just not a lot of support available.
They don’t complain at all though, they just get on with it. It’s hard to do things to help like babysit, as the boys have very particular needs. They don’t get to go out on their own very much, I suppose I just want to be able to do something to help. Applying for a grant on behalf of a charity that helps families like my brother’s was one way of helping.
I understand just how important places like Jump Space are. Being able to meet other people who are going through the same thing and just having that respite for a couple of hours, where you know your children will be in a safe and accepting environment means the world.
The fact that people travel to Stockport from as far as Leeds to access this support shows just how valuable this provision is, and how few places there are like Jump Space.
Being able to offer this grant to a local charity, that is doing so much good in the local area, is just brilliant. Charities like this rely on donations to keep running and offering the service that they do. I’m really glad I could play a part in this by giving support through my company.
Marie Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Jump Space
We formally started Jump Space in 2008 after we were inundated with requests during a set of trial sessions. Our main ambition was to provide a safe environment where young people of all abilities could use the trampoline and play.
We had parents coming who told us they were unable to take their children to the park for fear of the comments they would receive. Some of our families who attempt to access other activities are excluded because their children are considered disruptive. People can be very unkind to our families and children.
We have one young man who has been coming since he was a very young child. He had been excluded from school, from every activity he took part in. He visits several times a week – he’ll go on a trampoline, play monopoly. We are the only place this young man visits outside of his home and he absolutely thrives here. He’s gone from not engaging with any of us, to talking to different members of the team. He was told he would never be able to do anything, and he is now volunteering and helping others.
We see many of our families breathe a sigh of relief when they come through the door. They know that they are not going to be excluded, they are always welcomed back even if their child presents with challenging behaviour - knowing this is a huge comfort to many of our families.
The support we have received from Ardonagh Community Trust through the grant is a lifeline. It helps us to continue to do the things that would not otherwise be financially viable. Things like offering one-to-one support which is essential for some of our young people.
ACT has provided us with the money to get some mobile trampolines so that we can go and do outreach work in schools and in the community. This means that we have been able to support even more people who might struggle to get over to the centre.
Thank you to Ardonagh Community Trust for helping us to offer even more young people a place to find fun and friendship.
ACT Community Grants support charities Ardonagh colleagues care about
Ardonagh Community Trust (ACT), the registered charity of The Ardonagh Group, is here to support causes within local communities become better, brighter and stronger
Community grant applications are open to all colleagues across the Group worldwide to request up to £5,000 (or equivalent in local currency) of funding for a charity or a community project close to their heart.
Visit the Our Stories section of the ACT website to hear from the people behind the causes and communities we have supported through our Community Grant programme.