A social enterprise in Lancaster has been recognised for its vital work with its third award in a matter of months.
Unique Kidz and Co, which provides after school and holiday care for disabled children, has been named as the Small Social Enterprise of the Year by Social Enterprise North West, the lead body for social enterprises in the region.
And the charity is now in negotiations to build a purpose-built centre at a still to be revealed location in the city.
It hopes the venue will become a centre of excellence in the field and is already planning a fundraising campaign soon to support its plan.
Unique Kidz currently operates from the Loyne School in Sefton Drive and has an office in Carnforth.
It was the first organisation in Lancashire to offer after school and holiday childcare for families of disabled youngsters.
Unique Kidz has grown rapidly since 2009 when it was it was established by friends Jane Halpin and Denise Armer, who both have children with special needs.
It now provides services to more than 130 children.
Jane and Denise received their latest award at a ceremony in Blackpool.
Jane said: “We are delighted and honoured to have won this award which recognises the valuable and varied work undertaken by fantastic social enterprises across the region.
“Winning the Small Social Enterprise Award really means so much to us, the staff and the children and parents we provide services for.”
Denise added: “Our aim is to give disabled children the opportunity to play and socialise after school and in school holidays in a safe yet stimulating environment.
“For parents it provides a greater opportunity to pursue career or training, spend timewith other children, do household chores or simply take a break. This award is recognition for everything we have achieved and the impact our services have on families with disabled children.”
Val Jones, chief officer at Social Enterprise North West said: “This is the first time social enterprises across the north west have been recognised for their work in the region with an award scheme.
“We received a huge number of applications from social enterprises covering a diverse range of areas and the work they are doing is clearly having a huge social and community impact alongside bringing about economic regeneration.
“The Small Enterprise category was particularly competitive and the judges were most impressed by the passion and drive of the co-founders of Unique Kidz and Co in really making a positive difference to disabled children and their families.”
Unique Kidz and Co is run by a team of dedicated and professional childcare workers who are trained in special needs childcare.
The charity was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ OFSTED inspection report in 2010 and was rewarded for its work with a grant from Children in Need in 2011.
In 2012, the charity also won Lancashire’s Selnet’s Enterprise in Society Awards in the Small Social Enterprise’ category and an Enterprise Vision Award for New Business.
It relies heavily on grants and fundraising to deliver services and must raise at least £150,000 each year to continue.
For more information about Unique Kidz and Co visit www.uniquekidzandco.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01524 874047.