The Yard Dundee will soon be stepping up a gear after receiving £125k funding from the Scottish Government.

Opened in 2015, The Yard Dundee currently operates from temporary, shared premises at Rainbow House, Drumlanrig Place, offering creative and adventurous play for children and their siblings between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The grant, from the Aspiring Communities Fund (ASF), which is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), will allow us to increase from a two to five day service as of this autumn.

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

In addition, the grant will fund the employment of a Service Development Manager, Team Leader and two Playworkers. There are also plans to create an early years service for disabled children and a youth club one night during the week.

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.

The proposed facility will replicate the services offered by The Yard Edinburgh which, launched in 1986, 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.

Gill Thomson, Play Team Leader said, “Because we operate from temporary premises, we have been limited in terms of the number of families who can access our services. So it’s absolutely fantastic to have received this funding, which will allow us to grow significantly, support more families and build on the services we can offer.

“The Yard provides a vital lifeline for families but also a great sense of belonging – children have fun and parents have a space free from judgement, where everyone they meet comes from a place of kindness and understanding. To be able to expand our service in this way is just wonderful and puts us on a firmer footing for the future.”

One of the regular families attending The Yard Dundee is Lisa Webster and her children Aaron (4), who is moderately deaf and has a working diagnosis of autism, and Aavah (7).

Describing the facility as a ‘lifeline’ and a ‘home from home’, Lisa said, “We absolutely love coming to The Yard. It’s great on so many levels and Aavah likes it just as much as Aaron. If we went to a soft play centre, Aaron would struggle with the noise and chaos and we’d end up leaving, but at The Yard, no-one bats an eyelid, everyone understands and the stress just disappears.

“Aaron loves playing on the trikes and Aavah enjoys crafts, playing with the dolls and doing their hair and make-up! There’s also lots of outdoor space, which was particularly amazing during the warmer days, with lots of water play – the kids just love the freedom they get at The Yard.

“From my perspective, it’s a break and stops me feeling isolated – I get to chat to other parents and the staff are all so lovely. In fact, I love it so much that I really want to give back, so I am applying to volunteer here.”

If you have a disabled child and would like to visit The Yard Dundee, you can come along to any family session, every weekend.