Community Arts Network (CAN) was set up in 1994 by Athos Pittordou and Mary Braid (1959-2018) with a management committee as a voluntary organisation providing inclusive childcare and training for people working with children. It also aimed to promote the arts to children and young people.
And 20 plus years later, we have grown to be one of the largest provider's of out of school childcare in North Devon. Highly appreciated by the families who use our services and the professionals who work with them. We have grown as an organisation by building on our strengths and responding to families needs. We have been approached by schools to work with them to establish quality childcare in their settings.
The inclusion of children with additional needs into all our childcare schemes has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted Inspectors and we have featured as a good practice case study and appeared in publications by KIDS a national charity promoting inclusive play. We believe that all children have a right to play, and work to ensure that children can get the most from their time with us.
Whilst working families and children with additional needs, it became clear that the provision of services for young people was limited. In 2000 we set up the CAN SAY youth club for disabled young people as a direct response to the consultation. The club was a big success with 16 to 20 young people attending on a regular basis. The club started at Westcroft School hall and more recently has moved to the Bideford Youth Centre, with more age appropriate facilities. In 2012 we set up the I CAN short breaks project, which matches disabled children and young people with an enabler, so they can support them at Arts Play, CAN Play or out in the community. When researching the project, young people and families thought that small groups would be fun and so we now have the I CAN Socials or adventures in our minibus, as the children call them. These are group days out with 10 young people and 3 staff supporting them to enjoy a range of fun attractions and activities.
In 2006, we became a Community Interest Company (CIC) which was a new legal status for social entrepreneurs who wanted to benefit the community. The organisation can trade and any profits go back into supporting the work or setting up new projects. If we cease trading we have a named charity that would receive our assets.
Athos Pittordou, Ann Kneller