Family say move from Russia was for centre

A RUSSIAN couple moved to Worthing last year so their twins could benefit from care at the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre.

W13810H14 Saving Camelia Botnar Foundation. Boris Staroselskiy with mum Irina dad Yury and sister Masha SUS-140331-171116001

Irina Scherbakova and Yuriy Staroselskiy, of St Thomas’s Road, Worthing, say the Goring centre, which is currently under threat due to a lack of funding, is a ‘very special place’ after their three-year-old twins Boris and Masha, three, joined last March.

Mrs Scherbakova said: “Some of our friends worked at the centre a few years ago which is how we found out about it.

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“We browsed the internet and found a lot of information and some really good feedback so we decided to come and have a look.

“We were very surprised when we visited the centre as in Russia centres for children with special needs can be a little scary.

“But this one is very different, it was very welcoming and the kids seemed really happy. Staff were friendly and the whole thing was just really different from what we are used to.”

Masha has mild physical disabilities and walks with a frame while Boris has cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.

Mrs Scherbakova said that a big factor in the family’s move to England was the Camelia Botnar centre.

“It is quite difficult to raise children with disabilities in Russia,” she said. “A lot of children with special needs are schooled at home and you always feel that someone is staring at you whenever you go to places which makes things hard.

“Masha now goes to a mainstream nursery but Boris goes to Camelia Botnar four times a week.

“He is happy there and when I come to collect him I can see that he wants to be at the centre and that also makes me happy.

“He communicates with the other children and the staff and I know he is safe there.

“If Boris stays at home, I cannot do simple things like cook and clean and I could not give him all the attention he needs while running the house.

“For us as a family, Camelia Botnar is very important and it is worrying to think that it could stop.

“The centre is a really special place and when you go there you can see that all the children are occupied and supported.”

Last week the Herald launched a campaign to save the centre.

Philip Bush, chair of trustees for Camelia Botnar, said: “I think what the staff provide at the centre is absolutely first class and there is no alternative in the local area. If we were to close, where would the children go?

“West Sussex County Council provides funding in the form of free entitlement, but that is exactly the same as what a mainstream nursery gets.

“If the county council does not have the responsibilty for this facility then who does?”

The centre’s patron, the Duchess of Norfolk, will visit today at 2pm.