Project information

Play Opportunities

Play Opportunities are school holiday and after school clubs run for children with physical and learning disabilities, and autistic spectrum disorders.

This is an ongoing project

Charity information: Diverse Abilities

Diverse Abilities logo
  • Need


    Many children with disabilities experience profound isolation, which greatly affects their communication and social skills, yet many cannot access mainstream clubs, holiday schemes and facilities. Families often feel desperately unable to go out and enjoy activities together, either because it is too hard or because they fear other people's stares and judgement.


    Play Opportunities tackles this isolation by giving families with disabled children a chance to get out and about and enjoy themselves; visiting places that many may not even attempt by themselves thanks to the support of our dedicated carers. They are able to spend time in a supportive environment with trained staff and volunteers, and socialise with other parents who have the same difficulties as them. It also supports siblings development and enjoyment of life.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Improved life skills, self confidence and raised self esteem amongst disabled children


    » Through helping children with disabilities access new activities and experiences, and seeking their feedback so that they are influencing their lives
    » Providing fun activities in a safe and supported environment, encouraging them to try more, new things and to form friendships

    What success will look like

    Number of children with disabilities showing happiness & confidence through verbal/non-verbal communication, trying new things & wanting to return - observed by staff and parents.

    Aim 2

    Improved emotional well-being, social integration and self-help skills amongst parents


    » Through signposting parents to the charity's befriending scheme, and facilitating self help groups at Play Opportunities sessions.

    What success will look like

    The number of parents/carers who report improvements in their emotional well-being, social integration and self-help skills via questionnaires, on line forums and in groups

    Aim 3

    Improved emotional well-being, life skills and chances for siblings of children with disabilities


    » Through enabling siblings to spend time with other children with similar home backgrounds, to form friendships with peers who understand each other.
    » Provide teenage siblings with youth worker volunteering or experience with the charity.

    What success will look like

    Number of children accessing work experience & volunteering, through observing interaction between siblings and through observed and reported changes in siblings well-being.

  • Impact


    To reduce social isolation and consequent restrictions and limitations in accessing activities, enjoying life, building confidence and skills experienced by the whole family of a child with disabilities living in Dorset.

    Success will be demonstrated by growth in number of families able to access the service and reported benefits through regular questionnaires (postal and online) and through focus groups and online forums.


    This project relies on voluntary funding support to continue, without sufficient donations and grants the charity may need to reduce the number of play opportunities run, which is aimed a two per day throughout the school holidays, plus one evening per week and alternate Saturdays. The charity is working at increasing fundraising income, plus generating income through other resources such as leasing out the space used for Play Opportunities, like the sensory room.


    Annual report with images, case studies and quotes from the Play Opportunities and the families using them, plus statistics on the number of Play Opportunities run, how many children access the service and reported improvements amongst children, siblings and parents.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £137,504

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      Amount Heading Description
      £22,784 admin & HR central admin &proportion of central costs such as training, recruitment and CRB checks
      £48,737 managers salaries of service Manager and the various project team leaders - includes NI and pensions too
      £38,425 Support staff salaries of the carers/support staff who assist children with disabilities - hourly rates
      £15,146 activities costs of play sessions for all, such as swimming, tramppolining, bowling etc, include mileage
      £12,412 Rent & sundries Building rent, maintenance, electricity, gas, printing, postage, uniforms, cleaning, basic catering

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Big Lottery £53,860 Conditional
    Local Authority Grant £36,325 Conditional
  • Background


    Play Opportunities supports children and the families across the County of Dorset.

    The charity's office is in Poole, Dorset and the main hub for Play Opportunities is in the small town of West Moors. Sessions are run in Bournemouth, Poole, West Moors, Blandford, Sturminster Newton and Weymouth - with activities out and about across the county and in the New Forest.


    Children with physical and/or learning disabilities, and children with autistic spectrum disorders, living in Dorset. Their siblings and parents/carers are also included to benefit.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Diverse Abilities Plus has been supporting children and adults with disabilities since it's founding my a Mum in 1955 after her daughter was born with cerebral palsy. The charity has grown and learnt a great deal along the way, and now supports 500 families every year through a wide range of projects and services, seeking to support people with disabilities at every stage of their lives, throughout their lifetime.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Margaret Rustici

    Margaret Manages the Play Opportunities service. Originally a Paediatric Nurse, she has a great deal of experience over many decades.

    Tess Masterman

    Tess coordinates all the projects and organises the rota to ensure as many families as feasible get fair access to as many play sessions as possible

    All The Amazing Support Workers

    They give the children such fantastic experiences and really help them experience and grow, helping Mum and Dad be confident enough to not worry

Alex having her face painted

Alex having her face painted