STAFF at a Crediton charity that works to improve the lives of children with special needs are celebrating after receiving thousands of pounds to help boost their services during 2014.

Crediton & District Play-scheme, which has been running for more than 20 years, has been handed £3,000 by Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund to help children who often cannot access mainstream activities enjoy day and residential activities in and around the area.

As well as giving children aged five to 16 the chance to try new skills, socialise and gain increased independence, the charity also provides respite for families and work experience for volunteers.

Gill Carey, charity secretary for the past four years, said the fund means the charity, which has up to 50 volunteers, can now carry out its plans for the 22 children currently on its books.

“It’s just made all the difference to us and the children for the next year,” said the retired lawyer. “It’s over half our income for the year, so it’s helped secure our programme. We’ve already been able to use it for a day trip to Paignton Zoo.

“The programme that we plan costs us about £8,000. The money means we can do the things we wanted, like the residential trip to The Calvert Trust on Exmoor, which we normally only do every other year.

“The activities also give breaks to families and allow them to have a bit of respite.

“Because of the grant we can do an extra day in February half-term. We’re planning on getting a magician in and having a party.

“It’s a precious time for the children and their families.”

Now in its second year, the Lloyds Bank Community Fund is giving grants to 1,332 local good causes in 333 communities in England and Wales.

Staff in each community nominated four good causes, with more than 2.3million votes cast by customers and the public in Lloyds Bank branches, online or by SMS between September 23 and November 1.