A SOCIAL club for children with additional support needs will continue to grow thanks to the support of a local business.

Mackenzie & Cruickshank in Forres has chosen The Wednesday Night Group as its latest charity and all money raised at the garden centre during its winter programme of events will be donated to the club.

The garden centre aims to raise £5,000 for the activity-based social group which is run by Lesley Mawhinney for school aged Forres youngsters with additional support needs.

Peter Wilson, owner of the garden centre said: “The Wednesday Night Group is a fantastic asset to the town but after speaking to Lesley it was clear they face many challenges to ensure that it can continue to provide such a great programme of events and support for the young people.”

The Wednesday Night Group was launched 17 years ago and is now run by the parents of those attending who in partnership with Lesley agree on activities and outings for members taking place throughout the year.

The events include a trip to the Forres pantomime, theme nights, baking, craft and other social activities.

Lesley who co-ordinates the Group said she was delighted to have the support from Mackenzie & Cruickshank: “We are extremely grateful to Peter and his team. We are totally reliant on the generosity of the community. Over the last year the group has grown with more younger children attending. This is great, but it does mean we require more funding and resources to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.”

However, it is not just financial support that M&C has offered. The garden centre has also worked with its marketing team to design a logo for the group.

“We have been running for 17 years, but we have never had a logo or any kind of visual presence, so to finally have a logo that will become recognisable is fantastic. It will help us to be able to promote the group even more and in a more professional way.” said Lesley.

Lesley added: “The Wednesday Night Group is also open to siblings of those with additional support needs and provides them with the opportunity to meet others in similar situations to their own in a natural and fun atmosphere.”

The group meets every fortnight and Lesley explained that it has a massive impact on the wellbeing of the young people attending.

“Through supported social interactions we have watched group members’ confidence soar, many progressing onto supporting others in the peer mentor role which gives them responsibility and develops their patience and encouragement with others. The group has a very family feel to it and is a place where there is a real acceptance for diversity. All those attending learn to accept and understand each other’s different ways and the focus is definitely on what we can do, with no such word as can’t.”