During this funding period, we have continued to provide fun, friendship and support for our community of families with disabled children despite ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Vegware have helped us to fund our provision in Edinburgh as well as our digital services.

As Covid-19 restrictions eased over autumn and winter 2020, we were able to open up our services to provide support to more disabled children, young people and their families. Between September and December 2020, all three of our sites (Edinburgh, Dundee and Fife) ran adapted family sessions, which consisted of bookable, two-hour play sessions for up to 9 disabled children (with supporting adult) per session. This was available to our member families and adhered to social distancing and Covid-19 restrictions. The service allowed our members to access inclusive play in a safe and non-judgemental space, as well as providing families with vital respite and access to signposting, advice and support. Many families have told us that this service was hugely beneficial, giving the family some respite and their children a play outlet and a sense of routine. Alongside these adapted family sessions, we provided a schools service in Edinburgh, as we have previously always run, that aids special schools with social distancing as well as transitioning children back into a routine and educational setting.

However, since January 2021, due to the full lockdown introduced at the start of the year, we have reverted to providing the emergency lockdown service at The Yard Edinburgh, in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council as part of their emergency measures for disabled children and their families. This consists of a mix of small, targeted emergency sessions for the most vulnerable disabled children in the city and working with Edinburgh schools, providing a service for vulnerable pupils. Although we are incredibly disappointed to have to close our services for member families, we are dedicated to providing our smaller sessions (emergency service) to ensure the most vulnerable disabled children are supported throughout this difficult time. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to open The Yard Fife and The Yard Dundee due to the Covid-19 restrictions, however we are working on future projects and plans for these sites.

“P has unsurprisingly struggled with the current situation [Covid-19]. A safe visit to The Yard has given him a positive sense of routine and structure to focus on during a very unstructured time with zero routine. […] He loves seeing the staff and being in what we like to think of as a second home to him also. It is also giving myself something to look forward to: a bit of respite and adult company from a safe distance of course. You’d be surprised what a bit of conversation with familiar adults who understand and know P can help make my day a little better too. […] Overall, as always your efforts to open these sessions to the children who 100% need it just now are appreciate. And the precautions you all take don’t go unnoticed.”

Throughout the whole pandemic, we have been providing digital services to plug the gap we have had by cancelling the majority of our in-person services. This has included online youth clubs (pictured below) and an online early years service plus a partnership with the Hearts and Minds Clowndoctors. Additionally, we have been facilitating online mental health and wellbeing sessions, play idea videos, challenge ideas, signposting and advice and much more. Through our digital services, we hope to reduce social isolation by offering online touch points where our families can hear from our familiar staff team and access ideas, support and interaction. This online support has been incredibly popular, with families explaining that it has helped ease anxiety, given them resources to keep their children occupied and brought a bit of The Yard’s familiarity, openness and understanding to their homes. We are continuing to provide online services throughout 2021 to ensure that our families have a consistent source of support throughout this difficult time.

“The Clowndoctors have been amazing. They brought O and L 15 mins a week where they could forget about everything and interact and play with other people and one another. It completely made them forget about the anxiety of lockdown and Covid. […] I also would like to thank The Yard for organising these sessions. Like always The Yard gives us a lifeline. Even if we can’t be physically there it’s so nice that they offered us these sessions. We are extremely grateful.” – Parent accessing online sessions


In addition to the above services, we are conducting Keep in Touch calls with our members, to see if there is anything The Yard can do further to support them.  This has proved incredibly beneficial for our families and enables us to understand their needs during this unprecedented time. As an organisation, we have been working on our new and adapted strategic priorities alongside looking forward to the transition out of Covid-19 and supporting our families through this. Elsewhere, The Yard has established a Wellbeing Group which is developing initiatives to improve and support our staff’s wellbeing during Covid-19 and beyond. In February, we organised a ‘Move every day in February’ event for staff, volunteers and supporters which brought everyone together (virtually) to get some fresh air and exercise every day, boosting motivation and wellbeing!