ANTONY LILLIS PROJECT
In 2005, PAHF was approached to take over the running of a project, Palace Playground in Bishops Park. The playscheme was aimed at children with special needs and their siblings in Hammersmith and Fulham; allowing them to access supervised play in an inclusive environment and providing some much needed respite for their parents and carers. In Dec 2007 PAHF was forced to close the doors to Palace Playground due to lack of funding.
In Feb 2008, we were approached by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's Disabled Children's Team. PAHF opened the doors to Palace Playground once again. RBKC agreed that the children would attend every Saturday and 5 days a week in the half terms and school holidays. These young people were more of a challenge and had higher needs.
In 2010 the local authority closed its after-school club and planned to sell the playground, meaning that we needed another venue to host the service. The Disabled Children's Team at Kensington and Chelsea arranged for the borough's play service to put us up in primary school and play projects, meaning that we could continue to provide a service for the families. At one point we even changed the Saturday service to a Sunday, as our last venue could only accomodate us on a Sunday. We had to think about a permanent venue we approached one of the local special schools and the head teacher at Queensmill School, said she would be delighted to welcome a project such as ours to the school, as we already provided the service for some of her students and she could see benefits for others that attended the school.
In 2011 we moved into Queensmill School in Clancarty Road, Fulham and members of the school's staff team began to show an interest in working for our organisation. The staff and trustees thought it would be good to re-name the project. Many ideas were put forward, but one stood out the most; The Antony Lillis Project.
Antony Lillis was a local Conservative Councillor for Hammersmith and Fulham. A Fulham boy all his life, he understood what the community needed and paid special attention to helping and supporting disadvantaged people, and those that voluntarily provided services that they desperately needed. Sadly in 2011, Antony died suddenly from cancer. As he had showed great interest and with all the support, he gave our organisation, we felt in necessary to pay tribute to him and decided we would like to continue running our project in his name. With the blessing from Antony's family, we re-named and launched the Antony Lillis Project for Children and Young People with Complex Needs.
We approached the local authorities to seek their views on an under-eight’s service. They showed an interest, so we applied for Ofsted registration and funding from BBC Children in Need. We were successful and at the end of 2012 we started the Lillis project under eights service, run from the primary site in Clancarty Road.
The school had plans to move into a new building was agreed to be constructed for them in Shepherds Bush. The new build in Shepherds Bush wasn’t due for completion until Aug/Sept 2014 and from July 2013 Queensmill's secondary site was under construction to make space for the whole school to be under one roof. We were lucky enough to obtain permission from the neighbouring school to continue our service till April 2014, when they were due to start work on Queesmills side of the building. Over the Easter holiday we moved back to Mund Street and resided there alongside Queensmill until the end of August 2014, when new free school Fulham Boys School was due to move in.
Queensmill moved into their new school in September 2014 but due to incomplete works that needed to be carried out on the weekends, we couldn't yet join them. We approached Jack Tizard School, just down the road from Queensmill's new site, and asked if they would allow us to use their premises to run our Saturday service. They agreed however were unable to accommodate us for the coming October half term. We frantically tried to find a venue for half term and successfully met with the head teacher of the Fulham Boys College and manager RBKC Play Service, between them allowing us to run the project. Thankfully in November 2014 we were given the go ahead to move into Queenmill's new school, where we have resided since and hope to for the foreseeable future.