Family of girl with rare condition make funding plea for charity play hub

Eilish Cowan is one of only 200 children in the world with TUBA1A - but playing with friends at The Yard helps her 'be free.'

A four-year-old Fife girl’s campaign for more funding for a disability charity has been backed by MSPs.

Eilish Cowan is one of only 200 children in the world with TUBA1A, a genetic condition that means she is visually impaired and struggles to walk.

But when she goes to The Yard, she is able to learn, play and make friends with other children.

Her family say the hub is in desperate need of vital funding to remain open.

Eilish’s father Lawrence Cowan told STV News: “When Eilish gets to The Yard, she’s free.

“She’s defined by what she wants to do and not her disability. And places like that are not everywhere and they need to be.

“This is about more than funding, it’s about belonging. She deserves to be loved for who she is. Places like The Yard provide that in spades. It’s a gem.

“It’s about a place to be and a place to be loved and play. And that’s what we’re asking for the Scottish Government to support.

“A place for my daughters to have a place where she belongs.”

Lawrence Cowan is appealing for improved funding for 'gem' The Yard

Eilish and her father Lawrence Cowan have been campaigning for the Scottish Government to increase The Yard’s funding to help with their growing demand for services.

In 2016 funding for The Yard from the Scottish Government was equal to £163 per child, but money hasn’t increased with demand for their services.

Now, the money available for each child is the equivalent to £39 per child.

CEO of The Yard Celine Sinclair says this has put pressure on the services they can offer.

She said: “The Yard funding has been static and in real terms that means for us a 76% drop.

“That makes it very challenging for us to support families in Scotland with disabled children and young people who need our support.

“We support families not just practically but emotionally too and we build communities that support each other on a journey that can be very difficult.”

During a Members Debate at the Scottish Parliament brought forward by Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker the “Our Kids Won’t Wait” campaign was backed by MSPs from all political parties.

Minister for Children and Young People Natalie Don told the Chamber: “It was our aim the continued funding would ensure the sustainability of organisations and continued delivery of support to thousands of children families and young people across Scotland.

“However, I am aware The Yard has made calls for an increase in funding to allow them to deliver even more of the valuable services they already provide.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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