A CHARITY for babies and children with special needs is appealing for urgent financial help as it fights to stay open.
The Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre in Goring requires £250,000 a year to stay open and faces an uncertain future if financial assistance is not secured by the end of April.
It provides pre-school development support for around 70 children up to five years old and caters for a range of special needs.
Founded by Octav and Marcela Botnar in memory of their daughter Camelia, who died in an accident at the age of 20, it has helped thousands of families and children in need since 1979.
The care, which is given free of charge, has in the past been funded by the Camelia Botnar Foundation and small local authority grants.
The Foundation gave its final donation in 2009 and despite fund raising efforts and pleas for assistance to local authorities and Government, the centre and its 20 staff face a bleak future.
Jill Quayle, supervisor of Rainbow Nursery, has worked at the centre for 25 years.
She said: “It is like a family here, there is a lot of passion from staff and you find that the people that work here stay for a long time.
“We care for the whole family, not just the children because life can be hard.
“When the diagnosis comes through parents need a lot of support as they go through a grieving period and need help in various ways.
“Although every setting should be inclusive now sometimes children have been asked to leave other places, but we would never turn a child away no matter what the problem is.
“I love working here.”
Louise Emery, of Christchurch Road, Worthing, brought her son Jack, one, to the centre on the recommendation of a social worker. He suffers from hyperinsulinemia, hydrocephalus, epilepsy and late development and attends Camelia Botnar twice a week in the mornings.
She said: “This gives me somewhere where I can learn to leave Jack and gives me time to be away from him and do normal things such as put fuel in the car or going food shopping.
“He gets one to one treatment and attention and if this place was to close I would be really stuck.
“I could not take Jack to a normal playgroup so this is the perfect place for us as it makes life just a little bit easier.”
Jo Cochran, of Ringmer Road, Worthing, says the centre has been her lifeline.
The disabled mother-of-two has been supported as she raises sons Ethan, four, and Ellis, three, and said: “Ethan has now gone up to mainstream school but Ellis has severely delayed speech and language.
“The staff have done everything they can to assist me including bringing in a speech therapist and he is doing really well.
“It is one less thing for me to worry about and I know he is safe and thriving here, it is like an extended family.”
Paul and Tracey Knight, from Goring, said: “The staff are friendly and supportive, they have done amazing things for our sons.”
Philip Bush, chairman of the trustees for the charity, said: “We are in a serious financial position and looking for someone to fund us to ensure pour sustainability in the future,
“This is a very well established charity as we have been here since 1978 and have an excellent reputation in the local community.
“We are a specialist centre and I am unaware of any other centre that can provide the equivalent service.
“We are working hard at trying to secure funding because we believe that the centre should carry on helping families.”
Mr Bush said he hoped that an organisation which would be proficient at generating income would come forward before the final decision regarding the centre’s future has to be made at the end of April.
For more information about the charity go to www.camelia-botnar-childrens-centre.org
To make a donation go to mydonate.bt.com/charities/cameliabotnarchildrens centre or text 70070 with code CBCC17.