Friends separated as Camden takes kids out of Holloway playground

CHILDREN at a special needs playground in Holloway have been left heartbroken after Camden Council withdrew funding for its kids to go there.

Hayward Adventure Playground, in Market Road, Holloway, provides outdoor activities for children from Islington and Camden who require specialist care.

But on Saturday the Islington children had to say goodbye to their Camden friends for the last time after Camden Council decided that it would no longer pay for children from the borough to attend.

Kathleen Kadri, 51, who lives in Kentish Town, has two sons who attend the Hayward – Hadi, 12, who has special needs and Mahdi, nine, who does not.

She said: “This place means an awful lot to both my children. Because they allow siblings without special needs to attend it means Mahdi can meet other brothers and sisters of special needs children and that gives him a chance to have friends who are just like him and share his experiences. And it’s great for Hadi because he is active and it gives him the chance to play outside, so for us it is a double whammy.

“Losing the Hayward is a really big deal because there is no other place for special needs children that I am aware of where siblings can go as well. It is a huge loss.

“My son is very demanding and I am pretty isolated as a parent. The Saturdays that he spent at the Hayward were the only time I got to go out shopping with my daughters.”

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Another mum said: “My son really enjoys it and it gives him the freedom to run around – it’s unlike anywhere else.”

Robin McKeown, deputy manager of the Hayward, said: “Camden kids have been coming here for over 10 years and it is really upsetting. There aren’t many places where kids with special needs can play outdoors.

“Without the Camden kids, there will be fewer children here. We are definitely looking at cutting staff.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We understand this may be disappointing to local families. Camden is working closely with KIDS and Camden providers, to plan how we can offer replacement services within the borough that meet the needs of individual children. We are confident we can find alternative provision for this group of local disabled children but there may be a slight delay for some of the families as we need to ensure that alternatives meet individual requirements to a high standard.”