ABILITY Dogs 4 Young People has received £16,000 from the Isle of Wight Foundation, to install a wheelchair accessible lift at its training centre.

It will ensure the two-storey Sandown centre is fully accessible to the charity’s 70-plus volunteers and staff, who train assistance dogs to help young people and children with disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.

There are 700 disabled people under the age of 24 living on the Island — many of whom could benefit from an ability dog.

There are currently 26 working ability dogs on the Island and around 70 disabled people, aged between two and 29, waiting for a dog.

Each year, the Isle of Wight Foundation, comprising the companies behind PFI contractor Island Roads, awards grants of between £3,000 and £16,000 to Island charities, good causes and organisations working to tackle social exclusion.

Island Roads' streetworks technician Joanna Westwood, who is the sponsor of Ability Dogs 4 Young People, said: “Colleagues have been supporting Ability Dogs 4 Young People since they were voted our staff charity of the year for 2018.

“I am delighted the Isle of Wight Foundation has continued their support and I look forward to helping the charity to develop the fantastic work they do in reducing social exclusion on the Island.”

Carol Court, founder and chief executive of Ability Dogs 4 Young People, said: “Improving our training centre to a level expected these days will enable us to welcome and therefore help more youngsters with disabilities.

“As we grow, we would like to provide many more open sessions, vastly increasing the number of disabled young people we support.”

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