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Huge funding boost for community hub supporting autistic and neurodivergent people

Huge funding boost for community hub supporting autistic and neurodivergent people

A local charity that provides support to autistic and neurodivergent people has been given a £50K boost from Test Valley Borough Council to launch a new community hub.

More Education, operating as Koala, helps autistic and neurodivergent people across Test Valley between the ages of 5 and 18 who are unable to access mainstream education.

There is a growing number of children on the Hampshire waiting list for specialist education provision.

To help address some of this need, Koala wanted to create a dedicated space to enable them to expand their offer of hybrid learning and tutoring sessions, as well as creating a special interest library.

They identified an empty unit in the Chantry Centre as the perfect spot, but needed funding to adapt the space to best meet the needs of their users, including installing a platform lift, accessible toilets and other critical work.

Koala applied for £50,618 from TVBC’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) pot, and councillors approved the funding at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday 28 May.

Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor Phil Bundy, said: “This is such an amazing local charity, doing incredibly important work to support autistic and neurodivergent people, as well as their parents and carers.

“The community and educational hub that this grant will help fund will have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of those who use it, and it is clear that there is widespread support for the scheme.

“I am absolutely delighted that my cabinet colleagues and I were able to approve this funding, and we look forward to seeing the hub up and running soon.”

It is estimated that the facility will assist an additional 40 to 50 children and young people through tutoring and distance learning.

The space will also have the potential to be used by other similar organisations as part of a wider network of support, and will benefit users across Test Valley.

CIL is a levy charged by the local authority on new development. It is then used to provide new infrastructure in the area.