Footprints Conductive Education Centre in Nottingham last week took the unprecedented and challenging decision to cancel its sessions for children and parents for [at least] four weeks with immediate effect, due to the spread of the Coronavirus.
Closure poses a genuine concern for parents already feeling isolated and a heightened fear of a downfall in income affecting the future of the charity during an already testing climate for the sector. The primary focus of the Footprints Board of Trustees and management during the pandemic is to protect those children with underlying health conditions and compromised immune systems that attend the service.
The Nottingham centre is a small local charity that provides Conductive Education support to babies and children with a range of disabilities, needs and health conditions, including cerebral palsy and associated sensory impairments, motor disorders (difficulty with movement), and genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome, resulting in them being high-risk.
Children, parents and staff work together in small groups with hands-on contact, incurring further risk of spreading the virus.
Comments from parents include: “This is by far the most valuable service we access all week”, “It’s not just the input for the children we will miss but the interaction with other parents”, “Are you able to give us any tasks to work on at home, we are a bit lost already and it seems such a long time (to be without the service).” Parents’ isolation and anxiety is real and Footprints is often their main source of support.
Nathalie Bailey-Flitter, [Job-share] Manager of the service, said, “We are facing a hugely challenging and unprecedented situation that is unfolding daily. As the situation develops, my concern grows for the future of Footprints and our ability to raise funds and remain sustainable. Knowing we are not alone in this, offers some comfort but we exist to enable children with neurodisability to reach their potential. It is devastating not to be able to deliver a service that is a lifeline to these children and their families.”