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Monday, April 22, 2024

Under threat outdoor learning service saved from Kirklees cuts

Little Deer Wood in Mirfield provides outdoor activities for young people

Kirklees Council has announced it will continue to support Duke of Edinburgh Award activities for young people at Little Deer Wood in Mirfield, after this was threatened by council cuts.

Situated next to the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Mirfield, Little Deer Wood provides a wide range of outdoor activities led by experienced instructors in beautiful woodland surroundings.

The centre specialises in offering activities for young people including those children and young people with additional needs who may otherwise not be able to benefit from outdoor learning experiences.

Due to the scale of its financial challenge, Kirklees Council had to consider the way it funds outdoor learning activities for local young people, including those with disabilities and additional needs. This saw the future of Little Deer Wood come under threat, with fears expressed that the facility may have to close completely.

A petition had been launched to save the wood, racking up almost 1,400 signatures. Signatories described the “devastating” impact the absence of council funding would have on the borough’s children and the future of the site.

However, following engagement with parents, carers and young people, the council has been able to commit to continuing to support local young people to pursue the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme at Little Deer Wood and at Almondbury.

The council’s decision for Little Deer Wood means that the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme remains accessible to children and young people with sensory, learning or physical disabilities, including those with the most complex needs to which most centres cannot cater. Young people can take part through schools, colleges and groups across the borough.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh award will continue to be available through the Kirklees Open Award Centres currently available at Little Deer Wood Mirfield and Almondbury.

“The council is facing hugely difficult financial choices this year but we’ve always said we would prioritise the people who need our support the most. And we know that so many young people with additional needs benefit from the inclusive, safe and positive experiences offered by the team at Little Deer Wood.

“We are committed to providing our children, young people and families with a range of activities, respite and short breaks and Little Deer Wood is central to this ambition. We will continue to work with partners to offer the best possible outdoor learning experiences we can within our extremely limited resources.”

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