A Dundee drop-in centre, providing play services for disabled children, young people and their families, has introduced brand new services for the new year.

The Yard, which opened in 2015, currently operates from temporary, shared premises at Rainbow House, Drumlanrig Place, offering creative and adventurous play for children and their siblings.

Initially only open between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, The Yard has now increased to a five day service, with new early years and after-school family sessions. The Yard team has also grown significantly, with four new full-time staff appointed. As well as a Service Development Manager, a Team Leader and two Playworkers have taken up their posts, alongside their first ever volunteer. Seven sessional staff also work for The Yard in Dundee throughout the year.

The inclusive early years service, which is open to all children from birth to age five, is now running on Tuesday mornings. Open to children with and without disabilities, this service runs in partnership with the Under 12s Project within a ‘mother and toddler’ style environment. Children can enjoy a range of activities with their parents or carers, with free play, singalongs, stories and a snack (donation welcome).

Meanwhile, the family sessions, for disabled children and their families, run after school on Wednesdays. Taster sessions are offered prior to families signing up for membership (from £5 for per month).

Gill Thomson, Service Development Manager commented, “What makes The Yard different is that we focus on the needs of the whole family. For parents, it’s an opportunity to relax and play with their children in a non-judgemental environment, surrounded by understanding staff and other parents with shared experiences. Playing with parents, peers and our play team helps children learn to read social cues, the value of sharing and turn taking, and to develop their independence. Dynamic outdoor play is balanced with interactive musical sessions, arts and crafts, messy and sensory play. To be able to expand our service in this way is just wonderful and puts us on a firmer footing for the future.”

Gill’s new colleagues are Marta Jastrzab (Play Team Leader) and Playworkers Allison Williamson and Eleni Daskalaki-Denman.

Since opening, the Dundee service has supported over 160 families from throughout Dundee, Perth and Kinross and Angus, and by expanding to a full-time service, capacity will be increased by around 40%.

Longer-term, The Yard is in the process of preparing a planning application to build a fully adapted, purpose built centre and adventure playground at Balunie Drive, Douglas, on the site of the former Douglas House Care Home, replacing the current service. The proposed facility will replicate the services offered by The Yard Edinburgh, which launched in 1986, and provides an early years service, drop-in and family sessions, pre-teen and teen clubs, and a Saturday evening club for 18-25 year olds.

For more information, please contact The Yard on 0131 476 4506 or visit The Yard Dundee page.