Acorns group plans new venture

The Acorns group's  Christmas party, one of the festive-themed pilots gauging support for a Saturday club. (111210M5)
The Acorns group's Christmas party, one of the festive-themed pilots gauging support for a Saturday club. (111210M5)

A RIPON organisation providing support to families in the city and surrounding area is hoping to expand its activities.

The Acorns – Families in Need group plans to launch a Saturday club for children and parents which it hopes will ultimately be able to provide respite care.

An application for funding from the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All is about to be submitted and family support co-ordinator Liz Copas hopes a successful bid will allow the new venture to begin in the spring.

She said: “By talking to parents, we know there’s a need for a Saturday club in Ripon.

“There had been one in Harrogate and the irony is lots of Ripon families were having to go through to access it.”

Acorns, which runs a number of events including support groups in term-time and activities in school holidays, has been gauging support for a Saturday club by running a few festive-themed pilots, including one at Christmas and one this past weekend for St Valentine’s Day.

Mrs Copas said: “The pilot days back up the case of the need for the club in Ripon.”

If the grant bid is successful, the Saturday club will start as a two-hour event where parents and children attend together.

But Mrs Copas has broader ambitions for the club, hoping it can gain Ofsted accreditation which will allow it to operate for longer hours and offer more facilities and services.

She said: “We would like to become Ofsted registered so that, with the help of qualified carers, we could run longer and offer families the opportunity to leave children for a couple of hours to get some respite, or to attend separate activities at the Saturday club – such as hear a visiting speaker or talking to a qualified support worker.”

Other activities might include the setting up of a teenage club and a film club.

The Acorns group was relaunched late last year after being on hiatus since its parent organisation, the Family Support Project run by Ripon Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), closed in the summer after a loss of funding. Acorns always welcomes financial donations towards its other activities. Anyone who would like to make a contribution can contact Mrs Copas on 07519 988566 or chairman Martin Smith on 01765 605974.