What is The Yard?

The Yard is a Scottish charity, providing adventure play services for disabled children and young people (aged 0-25) and their families. We offer creative and inclusive play experiences in a well-supported environment, alongside wraparound support for the whole family.

In 2019, The Yard supported around 2,000 families through our varied programme of drop-in, respite and transition youth clubs, early years, specialist sessions with schools, family play sessions, and our inclusive play and disability training offer.

Since we opened in 1986, our services have grown significantly, but we will always retain our holistic approach and ethos of a child-centred and child-led play service.

Our values

At The Yard, we believe in living our values in action. They reflect how our communities are built and act as a compass that guides everything we do.

  • Community
  • Understanding
  • Adventurous
  • Kindness
  • Inspiring

What do we do?

At The Yard, our role in the lives of children and families is an ambitious one. Our single purpose as an organisation is to provide care, support, and opportunities for fun and friendship for disabled children and young people. We also encourage families to let go, promoting challenge, personal growth and supported independence for their children.

We promote challenge and adventure for our children and young people. None of what we do at The Yard contains risk for its own sake, but we are there to promote physical development and social communication, and to give children a vibrant experience and sense of achievement. There are few places where children with visual impairments can experience building and lighting fires, and cooking their own food, or build dens, ropes bridges or simple spaces to enjoy their own time. Everyone who uses The Yard is safe to learn and explore through taking controlled risks.

The Yard is as much about emotional as practical support for families. Besides offering informal respite, meeting other parents who face similar challenges gives them the chance to build a network of support and understanding that helps ease the difficulties they often face.

We promote inclusive play to help disabled children and young people develop their full potential, confidence, self-esteem and life skills. Our success is largely due to our talented team of trained and experienced specialist playworkers who inspire, guide and support the children who come to play. Each of these children is offered a unique and dynamic play experience. Our team is also a source of advice and support for the whole family.

We share our expertise by providing a range of specialist play and disability training opportunities across Scotland.

Our history and our future

Since The Yard was established in 1986, our flagship centre in Edinburgh was refurbished by BBC's DIY SOS The Big Build for Children in Need in 2012, and The Yard Dundee opened in 2015, followed by The Yard Fife in 2016. Our vision is one of safe and adventurous play opportunities for all disabled children and young people, and so The Yard continues to grow.

Our commitments

The Yard supports Scotland's Play Charter.

The Yard adheres to the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated, ie as human beings with a distinct set of rights, instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

The Yard has been awarded the LGBT Charter Bronze Award. The LGBT Charter is a programme run by LGBT Youth Scotland to support and guide organisations to ensure our services are welcoming, inclusive and safe for LGBT+ people. We hope this will become just another of the many wonderful ways we continue to support our families, staff and volunteers, and most importantly, provide the creative and nurturing play environment our children need.

Read The Yard Memorandum and Articles of Association.

Click here to view The Yard's key policies.